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Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  511 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Ray Charles (1930-2004) led one of the most extraordinary lives of any popular musician. In Brother Ray, he tells his story in an inimitable and unsparing voice, from the chronicle of his musical development to his heroin addiction to his tangled romantic life. Overcoming poverty, blindness, the loss of his parents, and the pervasive racism of the era, Ray Charles was accl ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 27th 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published 1978)
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Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
"If you wash yourself in anger, you never have clean hands."

Definitely recommended for biography fans. Unlike some of them, it doesn't skirt the intimate moments, hide the truths, or avoid controversy.

Ray Charles was definitely an impressive man - how could someone say he was not? Blinded as a child, he never let it slow him down. Blind, he learned how to ride a bike and cruised around the neighborhood. He went by himself to a school for the blind at a young age. After his mother's death, he tra
Apr 06, 2010 Ivan rated it it was amazing
This is the most honest and down-to-earth book I have ever read and one of the most humanistic and uplifting stories of all, not just biographies. If you are a great admirer of Ray's supernatural musical talent, you will be amazed and deeply satisfied by his equally great gift of story-telling and you will appreciate his music even more after you get an insight into his unbelievable life.

But even if you are not familiar with Ray's enormous contribution to contemporary Western culture and music,
Sometimes my dreams are so deep that I dream that I'm dreaming. I wake up inside myself. I watch myself sleeping and I look like a baby or a boy - tired from playing all the day long, a small soul hungry for peace and rest.

Ray is one real musician. You can't find nowadays that easily, not anymore. You can never read this autobiography without finding out right away that Ray's life was one heck of a ride & extraordinary, especially that he was blind. He spoke about it (and everything else)
May 16, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
This was a little grittier than some autobiographies. He owned up to it all with no regrets. He embraced the hippie attitudes about drugs and free love. He wasn't driven by fame and fortune. I got the impression that musicwas something he did because he loved it and managed to make a great living at it.

What I really liked about this particular autobiography was his tenacious attitude when he put his mind to something. Once he decided something, it was as good as done, even when he kicked his he
Sep 25, 2014 Marty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
The was the an incredible biography told in Ray Charles's own voice.

His voice is direct, raunchy, and after several chapters you will feel that you are in his world. Some would not understand, but keep reading and your heart and soul will be captured by the shear incredible life this musician lived to inspire, enrich the world with his presence.

This is the way a biography should be complied, leaving their history for all to see without covering up to save face.

There are no hard question just t
Feb 23, 2017 Dommdy rated it liked it
I am rating this book three stars because I'm turned off by how bigheaded male musicians seem to be according to the autobiographies I've read so far. I'm interested enough to read a few more to see if there are more like that but it doesn't make me like them as people.
Apr 23, 2016 Byron rated it it was amazing
A while back, I jokingly declared that I wouldn't be reading any more as-told-to autobiographies, but what I can say. I like reading books about musicians.

I saw this on a shelf and figured I might have a look, because I know Ray Charles used to have a hardcore drug problem, and also, perhaps most importantly was a brilliant musician. Come to find out, this might be one of the best autobiographies by a musician. It might be the best one I've read, and I've read quite a few. It came out way TF bac
Jill Edmondson
Mar 03, 2014 Jill Edmondson rated it it was amazing
Full speed ahead!!! This was terrific! It felt like Ray was in my living room having a chat with me. I've never seen the biopic, and didn't know much about the man, but - WOW! - quite the life he led! He tells his story with respect and fondness, and with a healthy dose of self-reflection. His "can-do" attitude and his refusal to be pitied or to wallow in bitterness are inspiring. Highly recommended.
Steven Yenzer
May 10, 2017 Steven Yenzer rated it really liked it
This book was ridiculous. Ray Charles was a crazy guy and seems willing to say almost anything in this account of his life. Very enjoyable read.
Naomi Krokowski
Dec 30, 2016 Naomi Krokowski rated it really liked it
Ray Charles was an incredible innovator. He overcame so many challenges to succeed as a multi talented writer, arranger, pianist, saxophone player, a groundbreaker in so many respects. I grew tired of the unapologetic infidelity, the obsessing over sex, the fact that Brother Ray didn't even know how many illegitimate kids he had. But his wonderful voice- both speaking and singing- is highly interesting.
Feb 06, 2008 Ellis rated it really liked it
I guess I really didn't know who Ray Charles was before reading this book. This was a pretty fun read. I like these stories of how famous people developed a skill, became known, and had lots of success. There are so many great musicians who never do get discovered that it's interesting to me to read about those who do.

In reading this book I kept forgetting that Brother Ray was blind. He certainly didn't live like he was handicapped. He did so much and was so brave. Ray was also a very honest (i
Dane Cobain
Jan 26, 2017 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it
Brother Ray is the true story of Ray Charles’ early life and career, and it makes for a fascinating read. Interestingly, when you consider that the copy that I own was written and released in the 1970s, it stands up well to the test of time, and if anything much of it is even more relevant today. For example, as a blind, black man who lived and worked during a time when segregation was still a thing, he talks about how racism makes no sense. He couldn’t see it, which meant that he couldn’t under ...more
Mar 25, 2012 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, non-fiction, memoir
Ray Charles - well, he forged his own trail, didn't he? The film about his life is based on this book which was written in 1978 when Ray was 46 years old. It's a good tale about an interesting life led by a musical genius (a term Ray himself questioned). Having seen and enjoyed the film, I still found a lot of new information worth hearing listening to this reading, and the reader, Andrew Barnes, sounds enough like Ray to be believable - that was important, since Ray himself introduces the book. ...more
Feb 05, 2016 Jack rated it really liked it
To be honest I didn't know much about Ray Charles going into the book, "Brother Ray", but from the little I've heard I seemed interested enough to pick it up and surf my eyes through the pages. This definitely has exceeded my expectations, and Ray truly is a character, though he tends to be quite pigheaded at times, but he knows that. I found the beginning of his life, while to be filled with obstacles, he always found a way to power through the hardship and follow his dream, music. Most people ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Marsha rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed his unique narrative. Especially the 'jive' way of speaking. "Das coo" and "This muthafucka..." and "All I need in life is my music and a decent piece of pussy to end my day" It was a treat to hear the actor who did the audiobook version of this render Ray's voice as he told the story. The story unfortunately ends in where Ray was in his life in the 1970s which is my one regret about the book, since we know he lived until 2004.
I really feel like I am Ray Charles's friend now, an
Jul 19, 2010 Marie rated it really liked it
A truly enjoyable autobiography. I ate it up. You can really hear Ray Charles' voice throughout, mercurial and bold as brass. It doesn't hurt that his life was truly remarkable, a genuine rags-to-riches story without all that painful lack of common sense. He is unabashed and unapologetic about being a skinflint, a disciplinarian, a philanderer and a drug addict. Reading this book felt like spending some time with someone truly comfortable with themselves. He might have big faults, but he sure se ...more
Oct 12, 2016 Vince rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book and was an inspiring story. It was very interesting to see the hardships he endured and how he was able to preserver. Some of the choices he made weren't always the best but he owned up to them and never let them change the person he was. His relationship with B was very inspiring even though it did not end the way they wanted he was still able to share their love through their children. Mainly it was inspiring that even though he was just a blind black male growing up i ...more
May 14, 2007 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone and Everyone
Amazing book, amazing story! Ray is one of my hero's after reading this book. It was really interesting how someone who had been blind since childhood could do, such as driving, flying (planes and 'copters), riding a bike all for the most part on his own. Ray would say his ears were his eyes but maybe it's because I have two eyes that's just amazing. I thought this was better then the movie and i LOVED the movie. This along with Bob Dylan's and Johnny Cash's are books that are in my vault for li ...more
May 10, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting book. I've loved Ray Charles' music but never really knew much about him. This book is an honest, no-holds-barred telling of Brother Ray's life. He doesn't whitewash things, and in fact comes across as kind of a dog in his dealings with women, and while I didn't care much for that behavior in general, it did feel like it was true to him and who he was and I liked that he didn't really make excuses for things. I love how the book shows that Ray was really honest with ...more
Man O'neal
Sep 28, 2010 Man O'neal rated it liked it
This is what the title says it is: Ray Charles' Own Story. It is interesting enough, and this combined with the easy writing style that comes with many autobiographies makes it a very enjoyable read. I will say that I didn't find myself deeply engaged in any of the pages. I simply found it pleasant and amusing. Nothing special, but good. On a side note, if you saw the movie than this book will probably be much less rewarding to you.
Jun 03, 2016 Tom rated it really liked it
A very interesting look into the life and mind of Ray Charles, at least circa the mid-1970's. I had some trepidation because I barely got through the first 20 minutes or so of RAY, but this was much more fun and less biopic-y. The idea of a white ghostwriter speaking in Ray Charles' voice is a little shady for me, but David Ritz pulls it off.
Marie F
Dec 29, 2015 Marie F rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
4.5-4.75 stars

I loved this biography! I loved the broad scope and transparency. I loved the blunt cockiness, I loved the vulnerability. I can't say I love every story and detail of his life (but how can that matter, it's not mine to live) but I loved his willingness to share them. Plus his life was actually pretty interesting to boot. This is what I wish more biographies could be like.
Jan 09, 2013 Omid rated it it was ok
After reading a few musical autobiographies, one starts noticing a fair bit of repetition: Artist grows up poor, artist find music, artist struggles, artist perseveres, artist takes drugs and sleeps around. artist grows up.
Maybe i've read too many books in this genre. It is a good read, but nothing mind-blowing
Cameron Dempsey
Oct 20, 2015 Cameron Dempsey rated it really liked it
I love this book, Ray Charles life, written by Ray Charles himself. I think it is absolutely incredible that he could've even remembered all of this, with being blind and everything. But he has an incredible, and very moving, story that I think every fan should know about. If you like Ray Charles, this book is for you.
Jul 16, 2015 K rated it liked it
I appreciate the gritty truth. Most people, especially celebrities would not come close to being as honest as Ray Charles. I also appreciate that he didn't try to say everything bad that he did was someon's or something's fault. Instead, he laid it all on the table as the truth. I only don't like that he seems unapologetic, or maybe unaware, of some of his disconcerting habbits.
Aug 06, 2008 Safiya rated it it was amazing
this as-told-to tome changed my summer of 2007. beautiful, powerful, deceptively stark language that belies a depth i haven't found in many other texts. imagine if The "Alchemist" loved gin, women and generally gettin' freaky.
a must-read.
Mark Farley
Very much the inspiration for the film, this account is written with music writer David Ritz but very much through the eyes and mouth of the singer. Interesting and heartwarming and truly timeless. Makes you feel like you are with Brother Ray through every part of his extraordinary journey.
Ghost-written by David Ritz, this seems to be truly the voice of Ray Charles. Brother Ray had an interesting and raunchy life and he tells it that way, in his own way. Same as he plays and sings the blues.
Sep 27, 2016 Chandra rated it it was amazing
Ray Charles spoke his truth. He did not candy coat anything. the book was nothing like the movie either. it was better.
Sep 03, 2012 Filmnut1983 rated it it was ok
I gave it two stars. It's worth reading but it's a typical biography of a famous musician. Worth reading if you're a fan.
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Ray Charles Robinson, known by his stage name Ray Charles, was an American pianist and musician who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to country music, pop standards, and a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem — a classic, just as the man who sung it."

Frank Sinatra called him
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