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Ray Price is coming to town

by on June 9, 2010
Country singer Ray Price has entertained audiences for over 60 years and now, at age 84, he’s coming to Fredericton.

In a telephone interview with The Daily Gleaner from his truck on his ranch in Mount Pleasant, Texas, Price talks about what’s keeping him on the road and entertaining fans.

This will be the first time this country music legend has performed in New Brunswick but he remembers when he once performed in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

“That was 50 years ago!”

Some of his most famous songs include Release Me, Crazy Arms, Heartaches by the Number, City Lights, My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You and For The Good Times will be some of the songs he will play when he appears at The Playhouse on June 10.

“The show that I have includes the songs that the audience seems to like better than others.”

This tour started at the first of June and it will continue across Canada over two weeks. Is he flying or driving?

“I’m on a bus flying down the road! After 62 years of it you kind of get numb.”

He spends the many hours on the highway in between gigs watching television and movies or listening to the radio, he says. He is a fan of classic country and doesn’t think much of today’s country music, which he says is more like rock ‘n’ roll.

“I don’t like the new (music) because it’s not country. They are using a word for it that they shouldn’t be using because it’s rock ‘n’ roll and everybody knows it. Pure country music to me is music about everyday happenings. It’s a story of sadness and laughter. It’s about life.”

He started singing on an Abilene, Texas radio station in 1948 after he served in the Marines from 1944 to 1946.

Price hit Nashville in the early 1950s, rooming for a short time with Hank Williams.

When Williams died, Price took over his band, The Drifting Cowboys. His signature song is For The Good Times but he really loves a song written by Willie Nelson that was penned when Nelson was a member of Price’s band in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“When Willie was in my band years ago he wrote a song called I’m Still Not Over You that, so far, is my favourite. It’s a beautiful song. I have recorded it three times and three times they put it on the back side of the record.”

Price says he can’t think of anything he enjoys more than performing the music that he loves for his fans.

“And I am going to try to enjoy what’s left. Even as old as I am I still have the enthusiasm to get on that stage and work because it’s my life and I think it is what I was born to do; at least it’s what I hope I was born to do.

“The first time it starts sounding bad or I lose my voice, I will not subject my fans to that and I will say goodbye and slink off in the dark.”

But don’t expect Price to hang up his hat and sit in his rocking chair on his front porch. Instead, when he isn’t touring and performing you will likely find him riding around in a pick up truck on his ranch where he raises horses as well as a huge garden which feeds five families.

“I’m going to work until I just can’t work any more. I love farming.”

And when he does decide it’s time to retire how will he spend his time?

“Go completely berserk!”

Price’s latest album, Last of the Breed, was recorded with fellow country music legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. This album was released in 2007 on the Lost Highway Records label.

The two-disc set features 20 country classics as well as a pair of new compositions. This was Price’s third album with Nelson and first album with Haggard.

This country music legend is close friends with other legends of country music. Price has generations of fans who love him and his music. As for this man, his list of favourite musicians is wide.

I’m a fan of a lot of people. Ernest Tubb, George Jones and the young George Strait does great and he does the country sound.”

On his truck’s CD player there is a song he is preparing to record for Warner Brothers.

“It’s the song of two lovers that meet again years later and it’s a real pretty song. It’s called Didn’t We Shine.”

This will be included in a video he will record with other country artists such as George Jones and Randy Travis among others. It will be great to get together with these performers who he says were part of one big family at the Grand Ole Opry.

“There’s not but two or three of us left. I hate to go into Nashville because there are too many memories.”

Price was known for his style of honky tonk music with such songs as Talk To Your Heart and Release Me. During the 1960s he sang slow ballads such as Danny Boy and For the Good Times with lush arrangements of strings and backup singers.

Price continued to have songs on the country chart through 1989. He also sings gospel music and has recorded such songs as Amazing Grace, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Farther Along and Rock of Ages.

He says he is looking forward to his show in Fredericton and he wants fans to know that if they decide to see him he will give them a show to remember.

“I think I have a great show and I know I have a great band. We do the favourites that everyone wants to hear. Believe me, unless I am in the hospital somewhere we will do them a great show. My son Cliff opens for me and he is a good singer too.”

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