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James Ray


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There is more than one artist with this name:

1) James Ray (born James Ray Raymond in Washington, D.C. in 1941, died c. 1964) was an African American R&B singer of the early 1960s.

A resident of Washington, the diminutive, 5-foot (1.5-meter) singer was discovered in 1961 while destitute and living on a rooftop, and began recording as James Ray for Caprice Records. His best-known hit was “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody”, which reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962 and was also a top 10 R&B hit. The single was issued in the UK in 1962 as well, and was performed by The Beatles before it was discovered by Freddie and the Dreamers who took it into the UK top 5 the year after.

In the U.S., Ray’s single was followed by an eponymous album, which contained the follow up single “Itty Bitty Pieces”, which reached #41 on the Hot 100, as well as a song called “Got My Mind Set On You”. A severely edited version of this was released later in the year as a single on the Dynamic Sound label and reached #22.

Many of Ray’s songs were written by Rudy Clark, later to become famous for “The Shoop Shoop Song” and others.

James Ray is thought to have died in 1964, due to a drug overdose.

The Beatles’ George Harrison purchased a copy of Ray’s album in 1963 when he went to the United States to visit his sister. Over two decades later he revived “Got My Mind Set On You” and took it to #1 in early 1988.


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