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Ray Charles Dies

Ray Charles, the well-loved singer-pianist responsible for hits like “What’d I Say” and “Georgia On My Mind,” died Thurs., June 10, 2004 in Beverly Hills, Calif., of complications from liver disease. He was 73.

Blind since youth, Charles was a skilled singer, pianist and saxophone player who blurred the lines between the jazz, gospel, blues and country genres. Charles won 12 Grammys throughout his career—nine of them between 1960 and 1966; he won the Grammy for Best R&B Recording three years in a row.

Charles was born on September 23, 1930 in Albany, N.Y. as Ray Charles Robinson. Left blind by glaucoma at age six and orphaned by 15, Charles beat the odds to become one of blues and soul’s most loved musicians. Charles has been honored with several prestigious awards, including an induction into the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Before he died, Charles finished recording a duets album that features collaborations with Norah Jones, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. The album, entitled Genius Loves Company, is due out August 31 on Concord.

Charles’ legacy will be memorialized in Ray,a film starring Jamie Foxx in the title role, that is expected to be released this October.

Charles, who was twice divorced and single since 1952, is survived by 12 children, 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Originally Published