There are only a few legendary singers who have developed mass audiences while pursuing their own artistic visions: Sinatra is one; Ella Fitzgerald another. Ray Charles undoubtedly belongs in this pantheon of major musical stars. Ray Charles: Man and Music begins with Charles's impoverished childhood in Greenville, Florida, where tragedy struck early when the young Charles went blind at age 6 and was orphaned at age 14. Driven by his enormous talent and determination, Charles landed work playing some of the toughest juke joints in the state, fought heroin addiction, and finally landed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Unlike other R&B singers, Charles took control of his career from its earliest days, moving on from his gospel-soul stylings of the mid-'50s to break through musical barriers, recording two country albums in the late '50s (at a time when the black presence in country music was barely felt), pure jazz, and then the powerful pop hits of the '60s. Famed music journalist Michael Lydon - a founding editor of Rolling Stone - is uniquely qualified to document Charles's career, having interviewed Charles and followed the star's performances since the 1960s.
Originally published in 1995, and universally hailed as the definitive biography, this new edition brings Charles's life up to date, covering the last 7 years of his life. It coincides with the release of a made-for-TV movie starring Jamie Fox as Charles, currently in production by Taylor Hackford. Charles has also issued a new CD recently and remains active as a touring artist throughout the world.