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Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  785 ratings  ·  73 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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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  785 ratings  ·  73 reviews


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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
...more
May Ling
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Summary: This is a hold-no-punches portrayal of Ray Charles. He was a womanizer for sure, but not so different from any other musician that is glorified. Brilliant though and focused. What an incredible life.

p. 15 - His depiction of the kind of outsourced jobs that were from people that had service jobs to white families it barely paid.

p. 17 - "He saw I was willing to give up my playing time for the piano, so I guess he figured I loved music as much as he did. And all this was happening when I
...more
AfroLit
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Best book of my year.
Ivan
Apr 06, 2010 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,
...more
Dawn Lennon
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, autobiography
Once again David Ritz gives voice to another iconic musician in the autobiography he wrote of, for, and with Ray Charles. This book is without a doubt the voice of Brother Ray along with his view of himself, his music, the industry, society, and life that only Ray could see clearly through eyes without sight.

Ray's life was unique in so many ways, not only because he lost his sight but because of his fierce drive to, in all ways, be himself-- to be Ray. He was a man of many dimensions while at th
...more
Nada
“It's me and I like me.” -Ray Charles

Ray is one real musician; you can hardly find that nowadays, not anymore. The life he lived was extraordinary–especially that he was blind–and he takes the readers in one heck of explorative ride. He holds nothing back and tells about everything he endured with obvious ease as if he made peace with his challenging past.

Personally, I don't necessarily identify with his views on different matters but I've found him to be an impressive man, and the fact that he
...more
Donna
May 16, 2015 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
...more
Marty
Sep 25, 2014 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
...more
Man O'neal
Sep 28, 2010 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. ...more
Jill Edmondson
Mar 03, 2014 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. ...more
Eric
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the ghost writer, David Ritz, has done us all a huge service by capturing this memoir of Ray Charles. I had usually enjoyed Ray Charles' music, although I would not say he was a favorite musician. Having listened to the work I think my assessment fit with the character I had drawn in my mind of the artist. Ray Charles was always his own man, and seemed never to have taken any guff from anyone. It was very easy throughout the work to forget that this man was blind from an early age, and n ...more
Tim Schneider
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm always pretty iffy on these "as told to" type books. But I'm a big fan of Ray Charles and he's clearly lead an interesting life. And Ritz has done straight bios that have been well done. So when I was struggling with a bit of reader's block I decided to give it a whirl. And I'm pretty glad I did. Charles doesn't hold back about his life and the way he lead it. He doesn't shy away from his womanizing or his drug use. He cops to being an absentee Dad to his various children. He acknowledges hi ...more
Ginger
Feb 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
An enjoyable read. The whole book felt like just sitting down with a friend and chatting about their amazing life.
Patricia
Feb 23, 2017 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. ...more
Byron
Apr 23, 2016 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
...more
Theresa
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story. Ray Charles was a gifted musician and being blind made his road to success harder...he succeeded against all odds. His mom was amazing and she truly was the force that made it possible. When she knew that he was going blind she rose to the challenge with love and determination to create a man that could stand on his own to feet alone...a man of confidence. I saw the movie first and it was so good, I had to read the book. One of my favorite songs by him is Georgia. Man, that song ...more
Omid
Jan 09, 2013 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
...more
Elaine
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I feel like I've met Ray Charles. Pretty much every sentence in this autobiography comes across as deeply authentic. Ray Charles has no shame, no desire to create an image or say anything performative. He speaks with complete candor about his relationship with drugs, his relationship with women, and his relationship with other musicians, even when it puts him in an unfavorable light.

There is no attempt to water down his vocabulary, nor any attempt to make it more dramatic. Everything about his
...more
Andrew Neveils
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having seen the biopic film “Ray” several times, I thought this might be redundant. I found out that this autobiography isn’t listed as the source material for the film, so I was eager to dive in and find out what really happened in Ray Charles’ life.

The movie got plenty of things right, even if the interpretation was wrong. The movie got plenty of things wrong, as well.

Such is often the case, the book was better than the movie. Ray’s voice comes through so clear, his mannerisms so evident, and
...more
Jonathan Reynoso
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ray takes us on a journey of his life starting from his childhood. The challenges he met as a blind black man in the 40s, 50s, and 60s was nothing short of amazing. He is honest about everything - including things I didn’t think I’d read in this book. This entire book is from the musician’s perspective. So, he often goes on rants and tangents. However, Ray keeps it somewhat fresh from page to page, offering insight on politics, race, sex, religion, and his favorites singers and songs.
Dawn Todhunter
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Didn't finish. His story is amazing and I wish I could hear it all. I've just had my fill of his cavalier attitude toward women. Mr. Kiss and Tell. And to be honest, I just couldn't stomach another recounting of how much p*ssy he got. ...more
Jessica Sant
Ray Charles was a fascinating man. Self-assured, self-sufficient, strong, talented, opinionated. This is his ghost-written autobiography from 1978. It's definitely NSFW, but it's an engaging glimpse into his life and his world. ...more
Ian Schultz
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a big Ray Charles fan, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, So many stories of his are packed in to this. We even get small glimpses of Ray's political and spiritual philosophy. This is an autobiography done right. I'm only giving it 4 stars because the Kindle version is plagued with typos. ...more
Steven Yenzer
May 10, 2017 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.
Shawana
It was an interesting look into his life. He was raunchy and raw and just honest with himself about his faults.
Mike Y
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
great look at Ray's life, philosophy and music. thoroughly enjoyed this book by my favorite musician. ...more
Chase
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Awesome Book.
Kimberly Larkins
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The movie did no justice then the book.
Heaven Claussen
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gosh this book was absolutely amazing!
Michelle Mormul
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
There was a lot of repetition of how much sex Ray Charles liked. It was quite an interesting autobiography
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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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