Written by
Bob Stumpel

September 25

Ray Charles On The Pop Chronicles (1969)

'69 RD Chronicles

The radio rockumentary The Pop Chronicles was conceptualized by John Gilliland in 1967. It traces the history of popular music from the 1950’s through the 1960’s. Gilliland wrote, narrated and produced 55 hours of radio broadcasting, first airing at KRLA in Pasadena in February 1969. He interviewed Ray Charles on 3 August 1968, in Los Angeles.
All these 55 hours are available through the website of the UNT (University of North Texas) Digital Library.
Two shows, numbers 15 and 16, were especially dedicated to Charles’ contributions to pop history: The Soul Reformation: More On The Evolution Of Rhythm And Blues, Part 1 and Part 2.
Nothing really new was added to Ray’s biography, but in this documentary his statements still sounded fresh, not yet following the more sentimental (born poor – brother drowned – lost sight etc.) mantras we know so well since his Brother Ray autobiography.
Totally unique are the precious comments and testimonials by the people directly involved in the music scene of the day: Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Bo Diddley, Bill Medley, Buck Ram, Howlin’ Wolf, Count Basie, George Shearing, Stevie Wonder, Steve Winwood, Eric Burdon, Little Richard, Martha Reeves, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Marvin Gay, Bill Matlin, Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Cash, and Ernie Ford.
Ray also featured in shows #3 and #4, The Tribal Drum: The Rise Of Rhythm And Blues, Part 1 and Part 2, and in show #55, Crammer: A Lively Cram Course On The History Of Rock And Some Other Things (listen here).
For the index of all Pop Chronicles episodes, watchthis. A clickable list of all shows starts here.


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