Cry. The Johnny Ray Story.

By Jonny Whiteside

Printed: 1994

Publisher: Barricade Books. New York

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Navy spine with gilt title. Orange boards.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Traces the life of pop music star, Johnnie Ray, discusses his personal life and bisexuality, and considers his recordings, performances, and motion picture roles.

Review: After finishing the book I felt dizzy from all that was going on in Johnnie Ray’s life. Yes, the book has its flaws: at times, you’re not sure who is being quoted as saying what, and, at other times, you’re not so convinced of the veracity of what the author is stating because he seems to claim to be reading Johnnie Ray’s mind or the minds of others (so you just have to take what he writes with a boulder of salt), and, other times, he quotes people who are just only one source as to whether such and such a thing happened. Reading some paragraphs, I thought the author would have been more comfortable writing a novel about Johnnie Ray.

Still, despite all of this, there are enough facts going around to stun you about what had been going on in Ray’s life: his childhood, his background, his vocal influences, his drunken escapades, his actual bi-sexualty though still leaning toward homosexuality and how these tendencies influenced his interpretations of songs, the retinue of leeches (some who had very bad influences on him especially concerning alcohol) who were a drain on his finances and energy.

Great lessons can be gleaned from this book for any aspiring singer/performer. Speaking aurally, I have to admit that I have a hard time listening to a whole album of his at one time. His sometimes bizarre vocal antics do not wear too well; this is probably a reason why he is becoming a forgotten chapter in musical history.


                  Ray in 1969, as best man at Judy Garland’s wedding in London, by Allan Warren

John Alvin Ray (January 10, 1927 – February 24, 1990) was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Highly popular for most of the 1950s, Ray has been cited by critics as a major precursor to what became rock and roll, for his jazz and blues-influenced music, and his animated stage personality.Tony Bennett called Ray the “father of rock and roll”, and historians have noted him as a pioneering figure in the development of the genre.Born and raised in Dallas, Oregon, Ray, who was partially deaf, began singing professionally at age fifteen on Portland radio stations. He gained a local following singing at small, predominantly African-American nightclubs in Detroit, where he was discovered in 1949 and subsequently signed to Okeh Records, a subsidiary of Columbia Records. He rose quickly from obscurity in the United States with the release of his debut album Johnnie Ray (1952), as well as with a 78 rpm single, both of whose sides reached the Billboard magazine’s Top Hot 100 chart, “Cry” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried”.

In 1954, Ray made his first film, There’s No Business Like Show Business as part of an ensemble cast that included Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe. His acting career ended with that one movie. His career in the music business in his native United States began to decline in 1957, and his American record label dropped him in 1960. He never regained a strong following there and rarely appeared on American television after 1973.His fanbases in the United Kingdom and Australia, however, remained strong until his death in 1990 of complications from liver failure.

British Hit Singles & Albums noted that Ray was “a sensation in the 1950s; the heart-wrenching vocal delivery of ‘Cry’ … influenced many acts including Elvis, and was the prime target for teen hysteria in the pre-Presley days.” Ray’s dramatic stage performances and melancholic songs have been credited by music historians as precursory to later performers ranging from Leonard Cohen to Morrissey.

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