Guitarist from Milford-on-Sea, Sussex, England, who was first exposed to country music in France, of all places. He was sitting in with an all-GI band, which was playing country staples such as Faron Young’s “Hello Walls”.
Back in England, he was influenced by Albert Lee, and actually had a chance to perform live with him on the country club circuit. He bounced around from band to band, such as The Diamonds, The Goodies, The Loving Kind, and Third World War. In 1973, he appeared on the album, Third World War II. He was an erstwhile member of Tiger on their eponymous LP in 1976. In 1977, he hooked up with The Sutherland Brothers on Down to Earth. He also supported other artists, such as The Platters, and Mandy Prior, for whom he played guitar on tour in 1978. Before the decade was out, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1981, he joined an all-star cast of musicians on Ricky Skaggs’ sophomore effort, Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine. He was also integral to the success of “Heartbroke” and “Highway 40 Blues”, a pair of #1s from Skaggs’ 1982 follow-up, Highways & Heartaches. In 1984, he found himself needed on the Emmylou Harris/Carl Jackson duet album, I’ve Always Needed You. Harris employed his services on The Ballad of Sally Rose, released in 1985.
Ray has become a fixture on instructional materials such as books, CDs, and DVDs, sharing his guitar stylings with would-be musicians around the world. A case in point is the 1986 paperback, Off the Record Solos for Guitar. In 1987, he appeared on Patty Loveless’s self-titled album and Kathy Mattea’s Untasted Honey. He then did a multi-national turn on the American/Norwegian collaboration, Kjekt a ha, and recorded All Broken Hearts Are the Same with Robin & Linda Williams, in 1989.
It was time for Ray to strike out on his own and release a solo album. It was titled Untitled Island, and hit the shelves in 1990. In the meantime, his ship had come in as a composer, when Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler recorded his “Tahitian Skies” for inclusion on their Neck and Neck album. The Chieftains then covered it on their 1992 album, Another Country. Their version won a Grammy award in the category of Best Pop Vocal/Instrumental. Ray embarked on the “Masters of the Steel String Tour” in 1993. In 1994, he showcased his mastery of the steel string on the instructional DVD, Country Telecaster Virtuosity. He accompanied Michael Lille on 1996’s Middle Child. In 1998, he was a member of The Jamie Hartford Band on their debut, What About Yes. They followed this up with Live at the Gibson Cafi. In 1999, he was one of Louie Shelton’s Nashville Guitars. He ended the millennium, appropriately, on Joe Carr’s Nashville Guitar 2000 A.D.
In 2001, he appeared on The Gospel Album with Vern Gosdin. He released Songs Without Words and made the cut on The Best of You Can’t Hear Me Callin’ Bluegrass: 80 Years of American Music, in 2004. In 2005, he was one of several artists to inform the instructional book/CD, Red Hot Country Guitar. He released his own DVD tutorial in 2006. Tommy Emmanuel included “Tahitian Skies” in his set, Live at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat, Australia. In 2008, the landscape was dotted with more instructional books and videos featuring Ray, including Great Electric Guitar Lessons, Premier Clinic: Country, and The 333 Book: 333 Licks, Tricks and Techniques Every Guitarist Should Know.
Ray continues to teach master classes in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here is Ray on the electric guitar in a performance of Ricky Skaggs’ “Highway 40 Blues”…