Ray Charles Robinson
Ray Charles Robinson was born on September 23, 1930 in
Albany Georgia. His father was Bailey Robinson, a railroad
repair man, and his mother was 'Retha. His father never
married his mother. His legal wife was Mary Jane, who also
helped to raise Charles.
By the time he was three, young Charles was learning to
play the piano. When he was five his brother, who was three
at the time, drowned. A few months later Charles got the
disease that would make him go blind by the time he was
After he became totally blind at the age of seven, Charles
went to a school for the blind in St. Augustine, Florida,
where he learned to play the trumpet, the saxophone, the
clarinet, and organ, though his preferred instrument is
still the piano.
When Charles was 15, his mother died from food poisoning.
He decided to become a musician soon afterwards and he set
out on his own. He played with various band throughout
Florida until he was seventeen. He then wanted to get as
far away as possible from Tampa and also stay in the United
States, so he bought a bus ticket to Seattle and left.
Eventually Charles dropped his surname.
There he entered a contest and was given a job at a nearby
Elks club. After a numerous amount of months, a record
producer noticed him and Charles had his first album:
"Confession Blues." Afterward Charles went on the road for
a few years. He played at bars around the country. It was
known by musicians as the chitlin' circuit.
Soon Charles stopped imitating other musicians, as he had
been doing up until this point, and began to combine gospel
and rhythm and blues, and, in doing so, created soul. He is
still called the "Genius of Soul" today. In 1955 Charles
made recorded "I've Got a Women", and made history. It
helped pave the way for soul for years to come.
In the 1960's Charles recorded "I Can't Stop Loving You" (a
piece of country music) with a large orchestra and his own
voice. This song, like his others, was loved by the
Unfortunately, in the 1940's Charles became addicted to
heroin, and in 1964 he was arrested for it. While he was
awaiting his trial he went to an award ceremony in which
his son, Ray Jr. was receiving an award. He had to leave
before his son received his award, so Ray Jr. cried.
Charles, seeing this, realized that his son would be very
hurt if someone yelled out that Charles was a drug addict,
so he went to the hospital and went "cold turkey" on drugs.
After a year, he was over the addiction.
Charles is a man of extremes. He was impatient, and he
would not listen to complaints. When he was happy, he was
very happy, and when he was sad he was very sad.
Today, Charles has two ex-wives, nine children, and seven
grandchildren. He has vowed to remain a bachelor because of
his two failed marriages. He is often seen on television
now, as a spokes person for Pepsi-Cola. He has earned his
place in music history, a living legend.