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Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story [Paperback]

David Ritz , Ray Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 27 2004
Ray Charles (1930-2004) led one of the most extraordinary lives of any popular musician. In Brother Ray, he tells his story in an inimitable and unsparing voice, from the chronicle of his musical development to his heroin addiction to his tangled romantic life. Overcoming poverty, blindness, the loss of his parents, and the pervasive racism of the era, Ray Charles was acclaimed worldwide as a genius by the age of thirty-two. By combining the influences of gospel, jazz, blues, and country music, he invented, almost single-handedly, what became known as soul. And throughout a career spanning more than a half century, Ray Charles remained in complete control of his life and his music, allowing nobody to tell him what he could and couldn't do.As the Chicago Sun-Times put it, Brother Ray is "candid, explicit, sometimes embarrassing, often hilarious, always warm, touching and deeply human-just like his music."

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Product Description

Review

Barnes & Noble Review, 2/17/12
One of David Ritz's finest r&b as-told-tos…Rich in insight as well as incident.”

About the Author

David Ritz is the author of Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott, Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, and many other books with or about Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and B.B. King. He is a three-time winner of the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars STRAIGHT FROM RAY'S MOUTH July 15 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I loved this autobio, the best I've ever read. While reading I felt like RC was talking directly to me. Ray just tells it the way it is with no type of fluff or excuses. In the book Ray says he selected his own clothes, dressed himself, shaved with a straight edge razor. He has even driven several cars (someone else were his eyes) and drove a moter scooter around his home (property) in L.A. The one thing that I found amazing was his drug use. RC said he used smack for about 20 yrs and he was shooting up himself, but I'm sure the first few times someone had to help. He never really said who scored the drugs for him and where he got it from. Ray said his drug use was his business and he wasn't hurting anyone. Did you know that Ray had one eye removed after being blind at a young age? He was attending a school for the blind and was great pain so it was removed. Years later as a man, he asked a few doctors what they thought of his ailment? They speculated that it was glaucoma but Ray never knew for sure. RC talks about the record companies, selling records, and tours. I thought his would be boring but the way RC tells the story it's not. I really like the way David Ritz organized the book and has a table of contents. I read every page, but the contents are good for those readers who only want to get straight to the juicy stuff. Get this book, you won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book Feb. 2 2000
Format:Paperback
reading about this Genius,Legend etc.. is incredible.the man has led a life&then some.his music his life is all in this book.the good&the bad.this man has many faces.David Ritz is a genius.he usually hits the mark with whatever subject that he is writting about.a deep thought provoking book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good stuff May 6 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
one of the better music bios. From RC's accounts of his tough childhood, to his audition with Lucky Millinder ("kid, you ain't got what it takes"), to drug use, sex, stardom ... he tells pretty much all of it. Now, if I could find "the genius of Ray Charles" in a decent state ...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In his own words. May 22 2005
By M. Buisman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Warning!: if people are honest you might hear some things you'd rather not read. In this case however, it does mean that through Ray Charles' own words we hear about his life up till 1978 when the book came out.

His youth was hard, becoming blind around age 7, going to a special school and losing his mom when she was only in her thirties were hard. Music is of course the theme that runs through it all, though I personally would have liked to have read more about the musical side of his life than the two things that make up an important part of the book: heroin and sex.

He seems to have been addicted to both but he has always said that heroin was his own choice and that he wasn't pushed into it by other people. That makes it all very openhearted and in a way bearable. The part where he decided to stop smack is heartbreaking and genuine.

He also talks lightly about his blindness, which is great, you forget most of the time that he couldn't see a thing.

The ghostwriter himself has carefully written that Ray himself went over the pages time and time again so we can be pretty sure that everything in it is true to his heart.

We could have done with some more musical history, but it's a great book to read nonetheless
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STRAIGHT FROM RAY'S MOUTH July 15 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this autobio, the best I've ever read. While reading I felt like RC was talking directly to me. Ray just tells it the way it is with no type of fluff or excuses. In the book Ray says he selected his own clothes, dressed himself, shaved with a straight edge razor. He has even driven several cars (someone else were his eyes) and drove a moter scooter around his home (property) in L.A. The one thing that I found amazing was his drug use. RC said he used smack for about 20 yrs and he was shooting up himself, but I'm sure the first few times someone had to help. He never really said who scored the drugs for him and where he got it from. Ray said his drug use was his business and he wasn't hurting anyone. Did you know that Ray had one eye removed after being blind at a young age? He was attending a school for the blind and was great pain so it was removed. Years later as a man, he asked a few doctors what they thought of his ailment? They speculated that it was glaucoma but Ray never knew for sure. RC talks about the record companies, selling records, and tours. I thought his would be boring but the way RC tells the story it's not. I really like the way David Ritz organized the book and has a table of contents. I read every page, but the contents are good for those readers who only want to get straight to the juicy stuff. Get this book, you won't be disappointed.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An in-depth set of insights into his life and thoughts March 11 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Fans of the late Ray Charles will delight in this classic autobiography of the legend, which is reprinted in a new edition including co-author David Ritz's essay on Charles' last days. If it's only one Ray Charles book you're buying, and you want an in-depth set of insights into his life and thoughts, it should be Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. Competing Ray Charles biographical titles provide photos; but it is this highly recommended memoir which provides his personal story in his own voice and from his own perspective.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One in a million March 16 2005
By C. Shaffer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not much for most autobiographies. Most seem to be self-serving, consequently less than accurate in description. This is truly an exeception. Revealing all of his motivations, weaknesses and failings, you'll see Ray Charles as you've probably never thought of or seen before. I'm sure Brother Ray could have include more about his life and times and attitudes, however, when the story finally closes, you'll feel that the perfect ending note was hit, once again.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't change a goddamn word!" May 5 2006
By Soulboogiealex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
David Ritz is a lucky man. In the course of his life he wrote autobiographies for Soul legends as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles. These bios were the result of long and intimate conversations, a fan boy's dream come true. All these autobiographies are interesting not only for the lives they portray but also for the era they take place in. At the time these artists were at the height of there career America was changing. During the sixties when the civil rights movement reached its peak they had there biggest selling records and were pushing the boundaries of the genre they were operating in.

It is often argued that Ray Charles and artist like him played an important part in the civil rights movement. His records crossed over from R&B to Pop, allowing the white middleclass teenagers to be introduced to Black culture. Not everybody had the patience or commitment to go to a civil rights rally; everybody can enjoy a good piece of music. Not only did Ray cross over he wrote some new rules as well. Ray was one of the first to combine Jazz, Soul and Country, appealing to a very broad audience of all colors and dominations. Ray was as much appreciated by the college kids up north and the hillbillies down south. Ray integrated concerts and gave the black man a human face, which at the time it was sadly lacking in mainstream white America.

David Ritz describes his conversations as some of the most frank yet closed he's had throughout his career. Ray never left out the sordid details of his life; the drugs and infidelity is vividly portrait. All of it written down in raw language, Ray liked to swear! At times you forget Ray is blind as he describes the women in his life, "Man the things I've seen" he even exclaims when he talks about his nights of sex on the road. Yet he also found Ray lacking the capability to reflect on the why's in his life. In contrast to Marvin Gaye who thoroughly analyzed himself, Ray seemed to ride the current, act on instinct and gut, without asking why he made the decisions he made. We find Ray Charles claiming that he did drugs, drugs never did him. Ray tells us his music comes from his Soul, he sang it as he felt it. Inevitably it was his unwillingness or unable ness to reflect that made him such a robust performer. When David Ritz asked Ray a couple of years later if he wanted some revisions for a reprint Ray exclaimed "Don't change a goddamn word!".
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