Written by
Bob Stumpel

December 8

Ray Charles Closes Olympic Summer Games (1996)

'96 TV Olympics NM

On 4 August 1996 Ray Charles took 8 minutes (source: here) to perform America The Beautiful at Woodruff Arts Center in the closing ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympic Summer Games. The New York Times TV critic wrote: “Constant replays of Ray Charles singing America have accomplished the unthinkable: never wanting to hear him sing it again”.

On Facebook, Ray Charles Orchestra trumpetist Chuck Parrish wrote about the band getting a call for another Olympic gig after the bomb that went off on July 27th, to play at Centennial Park. “I guess we were the guinea pigs on whether it was safe to play there after the bomb went off. 250K in the crowd and worldwide broadcast to all Olympic stations and CNN when we played Georgia.”
Trumpet player George Rawlin, also on Facebook, remembers, “I played with Ray every night of the ’96 Olympics. Big orchestra, big fun, biiiggg swing!”

Who knows more about the actual footage?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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