Written by
Bob Stumpel

August 12

Ray Charles And B.B. King Live In San Carlos (1972)

'72 LC San CarlosConcert 1972 San CarlosWith B.B. King

Photo from a 5-day early December 1972 stint at the
Valley Music Theater in Woodland Hills,
also co-billed with B.B. King.

A kind reader of this blog last week surprised me by sending me a cassette with an audience recording of a 1972 concert in San Carlos (CA). It has a decent audio quality, and – more importantly – it has B.B. King co-performing in the finale of the show.

Ray’s second USA tour in ’72 was booked from early November to mid December. It included B.B. King. They played the Circle Theatre in San Carlos from November 28 to December 2. At least at one documented occasion, Billy Preston (also) joined Ray during that tour.

B.B. King must have performed his solo part of the show before the (first?) intermission, accompanied by the Ray Charles Band.
The place of the first three Raelettes tunes (#2, 3, 4) is a bit unexpected, but from secondary sources we  know of other  Ray Charles concert programs in this period where the girls filled their own pre-intermission part of the show.

The order of the tunes on the cassette tape is:

  1. Our Suite (Ray Charles Orchestra)

  2. Hold On, I’m Coming (The Raelettes)

  3. Love Train (with The Raelettes, ft Dorothy Berry )

  4. Rock Steady (The Raelettes, ft Estella Yarbrough)

  5. Intro Ray Charles

  6. Blues For Big Scotia

  7. Marie

  8. Georgia On My Mind

  9. Feel So Bad

  10. Yours

  11. Intro Raelettes

  12. Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma

  13. Over The Rainbow (ft Susaye Greene)

  14. Don’t Change On Me

  15. I Can’t Stop Loving You

  16. Shake (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)

  17. Laughin’ And Clownin’ (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)

  18. What’d I Say (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)

  19. Outro: Unidentified blues (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)

Our Suite (#1) is the first known live recording of the tune, that was first released (in January ’73) as part of the album Jazz Number II. The version of Love Train (#3), first released on the Raelettes’ 1970 album Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, is also a first known live taping. Blues For Big Scotia (#6) is an earliest known concert rendition. Over The Rainbow (#13) is a (quite over the top) solo interpretation by Susaye Greene, very much in the operatic vein of her solo versions of My Funny Valentine (e.g. at the 1968 Paris concert). Yours (#10) and Don’t Change On Me (#14) are earliest known concert versions. Laughin’ And Clownin’ (#17) is one of my favorite Ray Charles songs, who – unfortunately – only very rarely played it live. This concert at Salinas, however, is the second (documented) time he played it together with B.B. King (the first time was during the Sold On Soul concert in 1970).

Michael Lydon wrote about the San Carlos gig in Boogie Lightning (1974): “The Ray Charles show was at the Circle Star for six days, one show nightly Tuesday through Friday, two on Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee and evening show”. This makes it possible to define 28 November as the datum ante quem and 3 December as the datum post quem. The audio cassettes that have been circulating among collectors always carried “November 1972” as a date, which means that this concert was taped between 28 and 30 November 1972.* 
The line-up of the band included Mike Conlon, Dave Kelly – trumpets; Steve Turre – trombone; Don Garcia, James Clay – alto saxophones, Andy Ennis – tenor saxophone, flute; Leroy Cooper – baritone saxophone, bandleader; John Perrett – drums; Edgar Willis – bass; John Henderson – organ, piano, vocals. The Raelettes were Dorothy Berry,  Susaye Greene, Mable John, Vernita Moss, and Estella Yarbough.  Regarding the remaining personnel, I guess there were many similarities with the personnel known from concerts in Paris in October 1972, the still largely unknown personnel of the Holy Land tour in late December of 1972, and the musicians contributing to the recording of the Jazz Number II album.
* The infomation on the venue and the named musicians is based on intelligence kindly provided by Joël Dufour.


Bob Stumpel — 2015-06-14 01:26:09

He always did that;-! Ron Levy has documented it well: youtube.com/user/levtron2

Anonymous — 2015-06-13 20:19:24

I was at one of the shows on this run. B. B. King and his band, Sonny Freeman and the Unusuals played their set before the intermission. Ray played after the intermission. I recall B. B. introducing his musicians according to their tenure in his band, newest to longest serving. Sonny Freeman was the last one introduced, at something like 18 years in the band.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *