Monday, December 16, 2013
– Ray Price, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died Monday afternoon at 87 of pancreatic cancer.
Price, dubbed the Cherokee Cowboy, was best known for songs including For the Good Times and Crazy Arms.
Radio DJ Bill Mack reported his friend's death on Facebook. He said, "Janie just called me: Ray Price left for heaven at 4:43 p.m. central time. He went in perfect peace. Details later. Janie and the family so grateful for your prayers. Ray's body will be received at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas." Janie is Price's widow and manager.
Price was born in Perryville, Texas on Jan. 12, 1926. He served with the U.S. Marines from 1944-1946, and began singing for KRBC in Abilene, Texas in 1948. He joined the Big D Jamboree in Dallas the following year.
He moved to Nashville in the early 1950s, rooming for a short time with Hank Williams. Price first hit the charts in May 1952 with Talk to Your Heart, which reached number three on the Billboard charts. In 1953, Price formed his band, the Cherokee Cowboys. Members included Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Darrell McCall, Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Bush, Buddy Emmons and Buddy Spicher.
Price became one of the key figures of 1950s honky tonk music. He enjoyed hits with Talk To Your Heart (1952) and Release Me (1954). He had a big hit with Crazy Arms in 1956. The song remained first on the Billboard charts for 20 weeks.
During the 1960s, Price went for the Nashville Sound, which was considered more commercial and lush with strings, quite different from the honky tonk sounds. Country traditionalists were not pleased with Price's change of sound.
Price continued touring and recording for much of the rest of his life. Price won Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and Grammy Awards including Album and Single of the Year for For the Good Times in 1970 from the ACM.
Price continued charting the top 20 until 1982 when Old Friends with Roger Miller and Willie Nelson hit 19. Among his number ones in the 1970s were She's Got to Be a Saint and You're he Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me. Price charted with 109 songs. His final one wasLove Me Down to Size in 1989. Price's last CD release was "Last of the Breed" with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, which came out in 2007. The three launched a nationwide tour.
In November 2012, Price confirmed he was battling pancreatic cancer.