Country Singer Ray Price Dies at 87
Ray Price, one of country music’s most popular and influential singers and band leaders who had more than 100 hits and was one of the last living connections to Hank Williams, has died at 87.
He died at his ranch outside Mount Pleasant, Texas, said family spokesman Billy Mack.
Price was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011 and it had recently spread to his liver, intestines and lungs. He stopped aggressive treatments and left hospital last Thursday to receive hospice care at home.
At the time, his wife, Janie Price, relayed what she called her husband’s “final message” to his fans, saying: “I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years, and I hope I haven’t let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll see you again one day.”
Perhaps best known for his version of the Kris Kristofferson song For The Good Times, a pop hit in 1970, 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. 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 became dissatisfied with Nashville and returned to his home state of Texas.
“Ray Price was a giant in Texas and country western music. Besides one of the greatest voices that ever sang a note, Ray’s career spanned over 65 years in a business where 25 years would be amazing,” said Ray Benson of country music group Asleep at the Wheel.
Price’s importance went well beyond hit singles. He was among the pioneers who popularised 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.