Ray Charles was one of the most celebrated singers and songwriters of his time. He may have been blind, but his lack of sight only served to enhance his connection to music. Though a lot of Charles’ life has been put in the public eye, there are still some things that many people do not know about him. With that in mind, here we present our list of 15 things you probably didn’t know about Ray Charles. Check out part one below, and stay tuned for part two, coming soon!
Number Fifteen: He Had Humble Roots. Charles was born in 1930 to Aretha Robinson, who was a sharecropper, and Bailey Robinson, who was a handyman and railroad repair man. He did not grow up super rich or privileged.
Number Fourteen: He Had Two Mothers. Charles’ father was not around very often, so for that reason, he was raised by his biological mother as well as his father’s first wife. He called his biological mother “mama,” and he called his father’s first wife “mother.”
Number Thirteen: He Was Inspired to Play Music From a Very Young Age. Charles first gained an interest in learning how to play music when he was in Mr. Wylie Pitman’s Red Wing Cafe. He heard someone playing the piano, and that someone was Wylie Pitman. Pitman eventually taught Charles how to play the piano.
Number Twelve: His Brother Drowned. When Charles was just five years old, his younger brother George drowned in his biological mother’s laundry tub.
Number Eleven: He Was Completely Blind by the Age of Seven. Charles began going blind when he was four or five years old, and by the time he was seven years old, he was completely blind. He became blind as a result of untreated glaucoma.
Number Ten: His Musical Talents Were Encourage in School. Charles had some very patient and encouraging teachers to help him play piano, despite the fact that he was blind. One teacher, Ms. Lawrence, taught Charles how to use braille to read music.
Number Nine: He Was Expelled From School. After Charles’ mother died in 1945, he was devastated. When he returned to school after his mother’s funeral, he ended up being expelled for playing a prank on one of his teachers.