Today (June 10th) marks the 17th anniversary of the death of the great Ray Charles. Charles died of liver disease in his Beverly Hills home at the age of 73. His health had been in decline since the previous summer.
Charles, whose real name was Ray Charles Robinson, was born in Albany, Georgia, on September 23rd, 1930, and lost his sight to glaucoma at age seven. He is best remembered for bridging the gap between R&B and gospel, with jazz, country and pop. Some of Charles' biggest hits included “Hit The Road, Jack,” “Here We Go Again,” “I Can't Stop Loving You,” “What I'd Say,” “I Got A Woman,” “America The Beautiful,” and “Georgia On My Mind.” Among his many other honors, Charles was one the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Just prior his death, Ray Charles said that he planned on making music until he died: “I'm a Duke Ellington, man. I'm a Count Basie. Y'see, because when music is your breathing or in your bloodstream, you don't retire from it. You go to your grave with it. I mean, that's just the way it is.”