Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Johnnie Ray

"Before there was Elvis Presley there was Johnnie Ray." (Johnnie Ray Biography)

Johnnie Ray (1927-1990) was an American singer loved by teenage girls.

At age 13, a blanket tossing accident, at a Boy Scout Jamboree, left Ray deaf in one ear. The incident went unreported.

Ray felt like "the loneliest boy in the world" until, in 1941, he was given a hearing aid, and "got the world back."

The comedy team of Bob Mitchell and Jay Grayton came to perform in Portland, where Johnnie Ray lived.

Ray became involved sexually with both Mitchell and Grayton.

The couple found work for Ray as a musician and eventually Ray got a recording contract. His first record, "Whiskey and Gin", was a minor hit in 1951. His second record, "Cry", topped the charts in 1951.

Some of these teenage girls who loved Johnnie Ray were not aware that, around 1951, he had been in court for soliciting a male for sex in the restroom of the Stone Theatre burlesque house in Detroit.

He had also been on trial for soliciting an undercover police officer in one of Detroit's gay bars.

In 1952 Ray married Marilyn Morrison, the daughter of a Los Angeles club owner. The couple separated within a year and soon divorced.

The gay Sir Noel Coward was at Ray's first appearances in the UK.

From time to time, Ray visited Coward's home in Jamaica, a country that attracted top gay people.

Ray appeared in Walter Lang's There's No Business Like Show Business (1954).

Ray had a gold record with "Just Walking in the Rain" in 1956.

Bill Franklin became Ray's manager and also his lover.