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08/23/2002 Entry: "Waving My Hands at Ray Charles."

It hasn't been a very long set—maybe an hour—when his tour people and handlers come onto the stage. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Ray Charles!"

The man who rises from the piano bench waving his hands and bending from side to side has white-as-snow hair and a red tuxedo shirt/purple textured velvet jacket combo that looked like what I fantasize Las Vegas looks like. His voice broke during the slow numbers, but he seemed to do just fine on the keyboard (except for some unfortunate choices in sound samples...but that may have just been me.) And "Georgia On My Mind" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" still sounded pretty good to me.

"The Legend, The Genius, Mr. Ray Charles!"

His tour people came on the mic and thanked the Raylettes and the Ray Charles Orchestra. Then Ray got on mic and thanked the Raylettes and the Ray Charles Orchestra. His stage crew readied to walk over and lead him offstage. Ray said something that I don't remember about his name. It prompted my mother to lean over and say, "He certainly likes the sound of his own name." Indeed he does.

The crowd was still cheering, and half were standing up. Then Ray motioned to the orchestra to keep going and sat back down and played the keyboard for a few more bars. His handlers didn't appreciate this. The man with the microphone waved 'wrap it up' to the orchestra.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this has been...Mr. Ray Charles!"

Ray waved at the audience again, and kicked his legs up from the piano bench, wiggling them at the front row. His personal assistant guided him up to his feet. Ray stood there and kept waving. It took a couple of gentle tugs to get him to start walking offstage. I was waiting to hear, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Ray Charles...had better get his butt into the limo!"

My mother (hope she doesn't mind me quoting her here) said it was a little sad seeing him perform with so much less vitality and sincerity than when he was younger, and I can certainly agree with that. But at the same time, I think he had more spark at that moment, kicking his legs up on stage, having to be being pulled out of the spotlight, than some people do their whole lives.

Replies: One Comment

Of course I know who you are by now!!!

Posted by Geno @ 08/26/2002 10:17 AM PST

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