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Robert Cray

Tin-eared critics have frequently damned him as a yuppie blues wannabe whose slickly soulful offerings bear scant resemblance to the real down-home item. In reality, Robert Cray is one of a precious few young blues-based artists with the talent and vision to successfully usher the idiom into the 21st century without resorting either to slavish imitation or simply playing rock while passing it off as blues. Just as importantly, his immensely popular records helped immeasurably in jump-starting the contemporary blues boom that still holds sway to this day. Blessed with a soulful voice that sometimes recalls '60s great O.V. Wright and a concise lead guitar approach that never wastes notes, Cray's rise to international fame was indeed a heartwarming one. For a guy whose 1980 debut album for Tomato, Who's Been Talkin', proved an instant cutout, his ascendancy was amazingly swift -- in 1986 his breakthrough Strong Persuader album for Mercury (containing "Smoking Gun") won him a Grammy and shot his asking price for a night's work skyward.

Cray was born on August 1, 1953 in Columbus, Georgia. An Army brat who grew up all over the country before his folks settled in Tacoma, Washington in 1968, Cray listened intently to soul and rock before becoming immersed in the blues (in particular, the icy Telecaster of Albert Collins, who played at Cray's high school graduation). Cray formed his first band with longtime bassist Richard Cousins in 1974 . They soon hooked up with Collins as his backup unit before breaking out on their own. The cinematic set caught a brief glimpse of Cray (even if they weren't aware of it) when he anonymously played the bassist of the frat party band Otis Day & the Knights in National Lampoon's Animal House. Cray's Tomato set, also featuring the harp of Curtis Salgado, was an excellent beginning, but it was the guitarist's 1983 set for HighTone, Bad Influence, that really showed just how full of talent Cray was. Another HighTone set, False Accusations, preceded the emergence of the Grammy-winning 1985 guitar summit meeting album Showdown! for Alligator, which found the relative newcomer more than holding his own alongside Collins and Texan Johnny Copeland. Strong Persuader earned two Grammys in two years and made Cray a familiar face even on video-driven MTV.

Unlike many of his peers, Cray continued to experiment within his two presiding genres, blues and soul, on sets for Mercury such as Midnight Stroll in 1990, I Was Warned in 1992, and Shame + a Sin in 1993. After switching to Rykodisc in the late '90s, Cray released Take Your Shoes Off in 1999 and Shoulda Been Home in 2001, proving that the "bluenatics" (as he amusedly labels his purist detractors) have nothing to fear and plenty to anticipate from this innovative, laudably accessible guitarist. Touring regularly with the likes of Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, Cray stayed active in the studio as well, signing with Sanctuary Records and releasing Time Will Tell in 2003, Twenty in 2005, a pair of live albums, Live from Across the Pond in 2006 and Live at the BBC in 2008, and This Time, which was issued by Vanguard Records a year later. Cray released his third live album in four years, Cookin' in Mobile, in 2010. The material that comprised the album was taken from a single performance at the Saenger Theatre in Mobile, Alabama in February of that year. The Kevin Shirley-produced Nothin But Love, a solid outing featuring narrative songs that circle around the trials and tribulations of love, appeared in 2012. Nearly two years later, he announced details of his 17th album with the Robert Cray Band called In My Soul. Released in spring of 2014, In My Soul saw Cray reuniting with producer Steve Jordan, who had previously helmed Take Your Shoes Off, and settling into a deep, soulful groove. In My Soul topped Billboard's Blues charts and on its supporting tour, Cray gave a celebratory 40th Anniversary concert that was recorded and released in 2015 as 4 Nights and 40 Years Live. ~ Bill Dahl & Al Campbell
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 4 Nights Of 40 Years Live (Deluxe Edition)

Disc 1

1. I Shiver

2. I'll Always Remember You

3. Poor Johnny

4. Won't Be Coming Home

5. Your Good Thing Is About To End

6. Sittin' On Top Of The World

7. Wrap It Up

8. Love Gone To Waste

9. Bad Influence

10. These Things

11. Right Next Door (Because Of Me)

12. The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

13. Time Makes Two

Disc 2

1. I Guess I Showed Her

2. Right Next Door (Because Of Me) (1987 Recording)

3. Smoking Gun

4. Still Around

5. Too Many Cooks

6. T-Bone Shuffle

x

Track List: Nothin' But Love

1. Won't Be Coming Home

2. Worry

3. I'll Always Remember You

4. Side Dish

5. A Memo

6. Blues Get Off My Shoulder

7. Fix This

8. I'm Done Cryin'

9. Great Big Old House

10. Sadder Days

11. You Belong To Me

x

Track List: Live At The Bbc

1. I Guess I Showed Her

2. Foul Play

3. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

4. Don't You Even Care

5. Night Patrol

6. Nothin' But A Woman

7. Phone Booth

8. These Things

9. My Problem

10. The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

11. Consequences

12. Right Next Door (Because Of Me)

13. Acting This Way

14. Smoking Gun

x

Track List: The Definitive Collection

1. Phone Booth

2. Bad Influence

3. Playin' In The Dirt

4. Smoking Gun

5. I Guess I Showed Her

6. Right Next Door (Because Of Me)

7. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

8. The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

9. Consequences

11. I Shiver

14. Love Gone To Waste

15. Survivor

16. Poor Johnny

x

Track List: Twenty

1. Poor Johnny

2. That Ain't Love

3. Does It Really Matter

4. Fading Away

5. My Last Regret

6. It Doesn't show

7. I'm Walking

8. Twenty

9. I Know You Will

10. I Forgot To Be Your Lover

11. Two Steps From The End

x

Track List: Time Will Tell

1. Survivor

2. Up In The Sky

3. Back Door Slam

4. I Didn't Know

5. Your Pal

6. Lotta Lovin'

7. What You Need (Good Man)

8. Spare Some Love?

9. Distant Shore

10. Time Makes Two

x

Track List: The Best Of Robert Cray: 20th Century Masters THe Millennium Collection

1. Smoking Gun

2. Right Next Door (Because Of Me)

3. Bouncin' Back

4. Don't You Even Care

5. Holdin' On

6. These Things

7. I Was Warned

8. The One In The Middle

9. Some Pain, Some Shame

10. You're Gonna Need Me

x

Track List: Shoulda Been Home

1. Baby's Arms

2. Already Gone

3. Anytime

4. Love Sickness

5. I'm Afraid

6. No One Special

7. Out Of Eden

8. Cry For Me Baby

9. Far Away

10. Renew Blues

11. Help Me Forget

12. The 12 Year Old Boy

x

Track List: Heavy Picks - The Robert Cray Band Collection

1. Phone Booth

2. Forecast (Calls For Pain)

3. Smoking Gun

4. Playin' In The Dirt

5. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

6. Too Many Cooks

9. Consequences

10. Bad Influence

11. I Guess I Showed Her

12. I Shiver

x

Track List: Take Your Shoes Off

1. Love Gone To Waste

2. That Wasn't Me

3. All The Way

4. There's Nothing Wrong

5. 24-7 Man

6. Pardon

7. Let Me Know

8. It's All Gone

9. Won't You Give Him (One More Chance)

10. Living Proof

11. What About Me

12. Tollin' Bells

x

Track List: Some Rainy Morning

1. Moan

2. I'll Go On

3. Steppin' Out

4. Never Mattered Much

5. Tell The Landlord

6. Little Boy Big

7. Enough For Me

8. Jealous Love

9. Will You Think Of Me

10. Holdin' On

x

Track List: Strong Persuader

1. Smoking Gun

2. I Guess I Showed Her

4. Nothin' But A Woman

5. Still Around

6. More Than I Can Stand

7. Foul Play

8. I Wonder

9. Fantasized

10. New Blood

x

Track List: Bad Influence

1. Phone Booth

2. Bad Influence

3. The Grinder

4. Got To Make A Comeback

5. So Many Women, So Little Time

6. Where Do I Go From Here

7. Waiting For The Tide To Turn

8. March On

9. Don't Touch Me

10. No Big Deal

11. I Got Loaded

12. Share What You've Got, Keep What You Need

Comments

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Robert, your music makes my days so happy. I simply can not go a day without listening to you. There are only a few I can listen to over and over daily but you are the best. I have too many favorites to list
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My bad forever goodbye not gone Briquette
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Says it all !!! Thank you for forever gone in 2009 it felt personal for me. Mr Robert Cray has given me and my late husband he had over 10 years more than I of many years of pure pleasure blue happy or otherwise you are one of a kind and God touched you. Briquette
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I saw Robert the first time in 1997 at the Concord Pavilion Ca. on a first date with the man who I spent 12 amazing years before he was taken from me way to early 7 years now to the day we listened to Robert Cray everyday was the best thing he turned me on too. We saw him many more times every chance we got I'm partial to sweet potato pie take your shoes off some rainy morning and shoulda been home but like my Husband always said the best song of his is the one your listening too. Amen that say
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tfq1
Robert doesn't ever disappoint. Solid.
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MY FIRST TIME HEARING HIM WAS IN AUSTIN TEXAS AND I HAVE BEEN SO THRILLED WITH THE RESULTS OF THIS WONDERFUL MAN.ALL TIME FAVORITE(is BECAUSE OF ME)
I PRAY YOU KEEP UP THIS GOOD MUSIC.YOU GOT MY VOTE ANY TIME.BLESSIN G S TO YOU.����
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Seen him in a bar in ashland Oregon and at the pioneer theatre in. Reno Nv long live the blue and RC
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Just played in Milwaukee Thursday night. Best show ever!
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Looking fwd to catching him here in Phoenix!
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bq313
Robert Cray is coming to Oregon!! He will be in Bend on April 5,2016!Tommy Hogan will be opening the show! See ya there!
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dfmstewart3
saw him last night. till love his music!
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enriqueesqui v e l 8 0 7
this man is beyond good he is incredible !!!!
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My wife met him in a bar in Olympia (just south of Tacoma) just as his break out album was climbing the charts. She didn't know who he was, and he just introduced himself as 'Bob from Tacoma'. They chatted for about an hour and shared a few drinks and laughs. When he left, everybody came up and said 'Do you know who that was'? She didn't but everyone else did!
Report as inappropriate
I first heard the Robert Cray Band on Austin City Limits and I was immediately blown away! He is the real deal!
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Robert Cray live - one of my top 5 musical memories, right up there with BB, Brubeck, Neil Young, Atlanta Blues Clubs, and that Dixie Land Jazz band my parents couldn't pull me away from when I was a kid visiting Seattle Center. Thanks Robert!
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,craving that cray sound
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I have loved his music soul and the deapht of his musical heart since the first note...
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awesome awesome
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This guy got it
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I love his song You were still around. Bad to the bone. Love Mr. Cray
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with the smoothe vocals and similar guitar styles mr cray and mr bramhall should do an arc angles type venture. get stevies boys back together for one hell of album and some great shows. hope you read this doyle. sorry for your loss was looking forward to seeing you at the grenada. god bless you and yours
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Super Talent.
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Robert Cray is the most pure, authentic blues and soul guy out there. He makes his guitar sing. It's amazing. I've seen him numerous times over the years and hope to see him many, many more. Strong Persuader, in 1986, got my attention. I latched on and haven't let go since.
Report as inappropriate
critics can kiss my as about thus guy. thats fine tuned talent. still get the hair on my neck standing up when i hear his tunes.call him a yuppie copy cat whatever just dont say it close enough so i can reach your throat.
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alicedseller z
Samsung acct
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sailorboi102 3
WHERE oh where is that Midnight Stroll??? It's one of his best!
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Saw in concert. Very talented.
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just so nice
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GooGood smooth singerd singer
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As far as i am concerned robert Cray can play no bad music. Seen several times cottilion in Wichita never been nothing but awed Olskool
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hubertdavisf o r 3
BLAH BLAH BLAH... Cray is just good. That is all.
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sailorboi102 3
Where's the Midnight Stroll album?????
Report as inappropriate
A supremely talented man, with a voice that just shows every emotion he sings. He's someone that later generations will look up to and wonder what we were listening to that critics were panning him? No guts, no glory.
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How can a man get so down and dirty with the blues and soar so high with the soul?!? PURE BRILLIANCE!
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Seen Robert several times. Last time at Motor City Casino in Detroit. Love everything he does.
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Chef Chi-Town grew up in the city of blues. In the early 90's I was introduced to "Young Bob" MAN WHAT A SWEET BLUESY SOUND!! I SAW HIM @ THE ARAGON BALL ROOM IN THE WINDY CITY ON MY BIRTHDAY. IN A DOUBLE BREASTED SUIT PLAYING BAREFOOT!!! KICKIN A**!!! YOUNG Roberto f**kin ROCKS!!!!!! ITS TRUE CAUSE CHI-TOWN SAID SO!!!!!!
Report as inappropriate
jbearjb
So smooth, so awesome.
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david.vick_u s a
Saw him on The Mountain Stage in March 2014, dude is awesome!
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Don't. Here or see much of Robert Cray anymore but this is what music was meant to sound like!Can rock out to this all night long!
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chris-smith3
young Bob, playin some great blues. First saw him in a small club in DC mid-80s...ma n can he play and sing!
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Love me some Cray!
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I was lucky to catch him live in Wi at summer fest. We were 35 feet from the stage. It was as great a Blues show as I have seen. WOW! I was blown away. If he is anything but a Blues star I don't know it. We love all his work. I have seen a Blues show or 2 growing up in Chi town.
Report as inappropriate
Best album was Sweet Potato Pie!
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I knew a man with his band that sounded just like R.C. So cool
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Favorite Robert Cray line... The blues is not a color
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Just saw Mr Cray..fantab u l o u s ! ! Saw him many years ago with Clapton & was just as good. Such emotion when he plays. Close your eyes, listen and you will go many wonderful places. Sweet :)
Report as inappropriate
biggermandan
Robert Crayfish Cray....The coolest, hippest guy stuff out there today!
Report as inappropriate
A lot of comments for Robert , which is great , watch him play with John lee hooker .... Fantastic
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I was hooked the first time I heard him on the radio. Gigantic talent!
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Mr. Cray have a way of painting a picture with lyrics and music that take you on a journey without leaving your seat .He is truly a gifted artist.
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