Country Music Legend Ray Price Dead at 87
Country music legend Ray Price died today (Dec. 16) at his home in Texas. He was 87.
Family spokesperson and country radio veteran Bill Mack relayed the news to fans on Facebook.
“Janie just called me: Ray Price left for heaven at 4:43 p.m. Central Time. He went in perfect peace. Details later. Janie and the family so grateful for your prayers. Ray’s body will be received at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas.”
The news comes just a day after media outlets prematurely reported Price’s death.
On Thursday (Dec. 12), Price returned to his ranch to receive hospice care after his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer. His wife Janie left a message from the singer on his Facebook page, thanking fans for their support.
“I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years and I hope I haven’t let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll see you again one day.”
The 87-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member initially gained attention for such innovative honky-tonk recordings as “Crazy Arms” and “City Lights.” He would later develop a smooth countrypolitan style that led to crossovers like “For the Good Times,” a song written by Kris Kristofferson that ended up being one of Price’s biggest hits.
Price was born in Perryville, Texas, on January 12, 1926. He served with the U.S. Marines from 1944–1946. Shortly after, he began singing for KRBC radio station in Abilene, Texas and later joined the Big D Jamboree in Dallas before he relocated to Nashville in the early 1950s.
In 1953, Price formed his band the Cherokee Cowboys, whose honky-tonk sound initially was in the vein of Price’s friend, Hank Williams. Early members of the Cherokee Cowboys included Roger Miller and Willie Nelson, both who would come to write songs for him. Price came to develop a sound known as the “Ray Price Shuffle,” a 4/4 arrangement with a walking bassline. That innovative sound can be heard on classic Price recordings such as “My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You,” “City Lights,” “Release Me” (which he cut years before Engelbert Humperdinck) and the song that became his first No. 1 hit, “Crazy Arms.”
During his career, which spanned 60 years and produced 62 albums that received multiple Academy of Country Music, GRAMMY and other awards, Price would go on to experiment with the Nashville Sound and later gospel music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. His last album, 2007’s Last of the Breed, was recorded with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
Price had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2012, and last week he left the hospital after receiving months of aggressive treatment. Price chose to receive hospice care at his home in Texas for what his wife deemed his “final days.”
Janie, his wife of 45 years, explained the situation further in a hospital statement last week.
“With God’s blessing he has not had extreme pain,” she wrote. “But it’s with great sadness that I announce to you today that my beloved husband has entered the final stages of his cancer that he has battled for 25 months.”
As the country community learned of Price’s death, they took to Twitter to remember the legend, celebrate his life and share their condolences with his family.
the world of music will surely miss the smooth voice of the Cherokee Cowboy, Ray Price.—
Josh Turner (@joshturnermusic) December 17, 2013
For the good times. #RIPRayPrice—
Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) December 17, 2013
RIP Ray Price, an unforgettable voice and man.—
Jamey Johnson (@jamey_johnson) December 17, 2013
If you make it to 87 years old and accomplish half as much as Ray did you lived a full life. #RIPRayPrice.—
James Otto (@jamesotto) December 17, 2013
Rodney Atkins (@RodneyAtkins) December 16, 2013
One of the greatest country singers of all time died today. Rest in peace Ray Price.—
Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) December 17, 2013
Ahhh Ray Price just passed. What a legend, talent an amazing person. Thank you for so many decades of great music. Truly will be missed.—
Jerrod Niemann (@jrodfromoz) December 15, 2013
love and prayers for ray price, family and friends. some of the greatest country music every recorded. one of the great vocal stylists. sad.—
Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) December 16, 2013
Ray Price. I got to sing with him twice. What a thrill! youtube.com/watch?v=PWMWUE…—
Martina McBride (@martinamcbride) December 15, 2013