RAY JOHNSON -
Ray is an accomplished and distinguished piano entertainer.
Born in New Orleans, Ray's early influence in music was blues artists like Charles Brown, Ray Charles and T Born Walker. His mother Grace played piano, so that's the instrument of his choice since the age of 4. She was his first teacher, just by letting him sit by her as she practiced, he watched her fingers and would try to play what she played.
Ray formally studied music at Xavier University and took private lessons for about 4 years. Music was his major at Dillard University for 3 years. At college, Dillard University, in New Orleans, his brother Plas and Ray formed the Johnson Brothers Combo. Together they played gigs in and out of the city for a while. He went to Germany and conducted a military band for a while playing the alto sax. When they left the army, they played in Watsonville and Salinas California for about a year, then they came to Los Angeles and continued to perform together until Plas got his group and Ray organized his sound with piano bass and drums.
In the early 60's he made records with Johnny Otis and his TV Show. Around this time he arranged national hit "Death of an Angel" and "a casual look" with Flip records. He also started at this time to work under Rene Hall and Jimmy Haskell, two renowned recording arrangers.His career highlights are numerous such as: the 75th Oscar Awards as keyboardist for Queen Latifah & Catherine Zeta Jones, with Sammy Davis Jr. along with the Johnny Otis Show. The 6th Annual Rhythm & Blues Pioneer Awards, Band Member of the Monterey Jazz Festival, Pianist with Johnny Otis Band, and more.
Ray appeared also on television portraying Ray Charles for the Heineken Beer Commercial - as a Musical Cast Member in "The Rosie Gier Variety Show" on ABC, The Johnny Otis Show as Cast Performer. He is also good in acting such in "Beggar Man Thief" portraying Nat King Cole, in "The little Richard Story" portraying himself and many other roles.
The 60's was his famous recording years with Rick Nelson, Nat Cole, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra to name a few. During this period he was pianist with the #1 TV show in the nation "Shindig". Many International names performed with them on that show . His first video was with Aretha Franklin singing "Mockin Bird"...After his studio he continued with his trio, duo and singles work both locally and in Japan. Ray has been to Japan 12 times (Tokyo 3 times, Osaka 7 times, Fuko o ko once, Kobe once). He just completed 2 months in Dakanyama, Japan at the Tableaux Piano Bar.
Now he plans to try Europe and the Middle East.