Bing Search

Music News

©AP / Ray Price
© AP / Ray Price
Country singer Ray Price dead at 87

DALLAS (AP) -- Ray Price, one of country music's most popular and influential singers and bandleaders who had more than 100 hits and was one of the last living connections to Hank Williams, died Monday. He was 87.

Price died Monday afternoon at his ranch outside Mount Pleasant, said Billy Mack Jr., who was acting as a family spokesman. Billie Perryman, the wife of family friend and spokesman Tom Perryman, a DJ with KKUS-FM in Tyler, also confirmed his death.

Price was discharged last week from the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, where he had been in and out in recent months as he was treated for cancer and its complications. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011 and it has recently spread to his liver, intestines and lungs, the hospital said.

Perhaps best known for his version of the Kris Kristofferson song "For the Good Times," a pop hit in 1970, the velvet-voiced Price was a giant among traditional country performers in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, as likely to defy a trend as he was to defend one. He helped invent the genre's honky-tonk sound early in his career, then took it in a more polished direction.

He reached the Billboard Hot 100 eight times from 1958-73 and had seven No. 1 hits and more than 100 titles on the Billboard country chart from 1952 to 1989. "For the Good Times" was his biggest crossover hit, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard pop music singles chart. His other country hits included "Crazy Arms," ''Release Me," ''The Same Old Me," ''Heartaches by the Number," ''City Lights" and "Too Young to Die."

"If you got a pop hit, you sold a lot more records," Price said in 2000. "It was my style, really. I sang ballads, sort of laid-back. I'm still a country boy. I don't pretend to be anything else."

Price was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, long after he'd become dissatisfied with Nashville and returned to his home state of Texas.

His importance went well beyond hit singles. He was among the pioneers who popularized electric instruments and drums in country music. After helping to establish the bedrock 4/4 shuffle beat that can still be heard on every honky-tonk jukebox and most country radio stations in the world, Price angered traditionalists by breaking away from country. He gave early breaks to Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and other major performers.

His "Danny Boy" in the late 1960s was a heavily orchestrated version that crossed over to the pop charts. He then started touring with a string-laden 20-piece band that outraged his dancehall fans.

In the 1970s he sang often with symphony orchestras -- in a tuxedo and cowboy boots.

Like Nelson, his good friend and contemporary, Price simply didn't care what others thought and pursued the chance to make his music the way he wanted to.

"I have fought prejudice since I got in country music and I will continue to fight it," he told The Associated Press in 1981. "A lot of people want to keep country music in the minority of people. But it belongs to the world. It's art."

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
137Comments
Feb 11, 2014 12:38AM
avatar
the best of the best mr ray price thank you much
Dec 19, 2013 8:15AM
avatar
Good music will last forever and he made good music. He will be missed.
Dec 17, 2013 1:23PM
avatar

Ray was a class act all the way, saw him a few times in concert and was never disappointed.  I will cherish his music forever.  There isn't anyone even close to his voice or style.  Cash, Jennings,

Jones, Wynette, they're all gone.  The country music today can't even hold a candle.

Dec 17, 2013 1:12PM
avatar
I had the pleasure of sitting right in front of Ray Price in one of his concerts.  He was 83 years old at the time and thought that he probably would not sound as good as he once did.  Boy!  Was I wrong!  Ray sound better in person then he did on his recordings.  To sit and see, and listen to a legend like this is one of my my main treasures that I will never forget!  He was a "one and only"!
Dec 17, 2013 1:12PM
avatar
sorry to read this Ray Price was a good Cowboy,great singer!
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
more on msn music
Miranda Lambert/Pharrell Williams/Janelle Monae
See highlights from this summers' biggest current tours and festivals
Ed Sheeran: From touring with Taylor to a single with Pharrell, British troubadour navigates to pop's mainstream
Most memorable BET moments: Check out six highlights from the 2014 awards' nearly four hour event
Courtney on Kurt: His widow and Hole front woman reveals Cobain was "desperate" to achieve rock stardom
Prince reigns: The funk-rock-pop wizard reveals another full-length set ready to roll out for fans