There is more than one artist with this name: 1) James Ray (born James Ray Raymond in Washington, D.C. in 1941, died c. 1964) was an African American R&B singer of the early 1960s. A resident of Washington, the diminutive, 5-foot (1.5-meter) singer was discovered in 1961 while destitute and living on a rooftop, and began recording as James Ray for Caprice Records. His best-known hit was "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody", which reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962 and was also a top 10 R&B hit.
1) James Ray (born James Ray Raymond in Washington, D.C. in 1941, died c. 1964) was an African American R&B singer of the early 1960s.
A resident of Washington, the diminutive, 5-foot (1.5-meter) singer was discovered in 1961 while destitute and living on a rooftop, and began recording as James Ray for Caprice Records. His best-known hit was "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody", which reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962 and was also a top 10 R&B hit. The single was issued in the UK in 1962 as well, and was performed by The Beatles before it was discovered by Freddie and the Dreamers who took it into the UK top 5 the year after.
In the U.S., Ray's single was followed by an eponymous album, which contained the follow up single "Itty Bitty Pieces", which reached #41 on the Hot 100, as well as a song called "Got My Mind Set On You". A severely edited version of this was released later in the year as a single on the Dynamic Sound label and reached #22.
Many of Ray's songs were written by Rudy Clark, later to become famous for "The Shoop Shoop Song" and others.
James Ray is thought to have died in 1964, due to a drug overdose.
The Beatles' George Harrison purchased a copy of Ray's album in 1963 when he went to the United States to visit his sister. Over two decades later he revived "Got My Mind Set On You" and took it to #1 in early 1988.
John Lennon was also a fan and included "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody" on his jukebox, the contents of which were issued as a double CD in 2004 after the jukebox itself was purchased at an auction.
2) James Ray is a rock singer and band-leader, best known as a member of Andrew Eldritch's side-project The Sisterhood.
He was a founding member of "James Ray and The Performance", a rock band with ties to goth rock. James Ray has also formed the bands "James Rays Gangwar", "The MK Ultra", "4080peru" and his current band 25men
James Ray and The Performance
The Performance was a band started by James Ray and Carl Harrison. An early demo of tracks such as "Mexico Sundown Blues", "Dance" and "Edie Sedgwick" (the latter named after the actress) was sent to The Sisters of Mercy's record label, Merciful Release. The band were signed, and after Ray's contribution to The Sisterhood project "Gift", Merciful released the Mexico Sundown Blues single in July 1986. The singles "Texas" and "Dust Boat" were also released on Merciful, followed by the compilation A New Kind Of Assassin.
James Rays Gangwar
After The Performance, Ray formed James Rays Gangwar. The band were still contracted to Merciful for an album, so the band recorded the Dios Esta De Nuestro Lado LP, a more aggressive sounding album, still with the southern American influence, and a cover of Alvin Stardust's "[My] Coo Ca Choo" closing the album. The opening track, Rev Rev Lowrider was released as a single. Other non-album tracks were released as singles, "Fuel", "Another Million Dollars" and "Without Conscience".
After this, Gangwar released the Third Generation LP on Surgery Records, a much more techno-based album, with fewer guitars, and a more trance-like feel. The song "Fuelled Up" draws heavily from the earlier song "Fuel," which in turn borrows heavily from the melody of Knock on Wood.
The final Gangwar album was 'Psychodalek', combining the techno feel of Third Generation and their traditioanal overdriven guitar sounds. The album aslo featured a new recording of Edie Sedgewick, entitled only Edie, featuring These Crimson Dreams singer, Tamsin.
The MK Ultra
After the release of Third Generation, Ray formed the project "The MK Ultra", a solo effort, again releasing on Merciful Release. The first LP This Is This had a more dance-like feel than Third Generation, continuing to incorporate samples and Ray's own deep voice against the female backing vocals and techno rhythms. The first track, "Regeneration" is a remix of the title track from Third Generation. After This Is This, Ray released Beluga Pop, a collection of ambient techno pieces, far removed from much of his earlier work. The MK Ultra did not release any singles. Ray later wrote a novella entitled "Psychodalek" under the James Ray's Gangwar moniker, and released an album of the same name as a soundtrack to accompany the book. Both the novella and the album are currently available to download from his website.
In recent years, Gangwar have reformed, to play a handful of concerts, such as Wave-Gotik-Treffen. A further ambient project, 4080Peru was formed, writing long soundscapes. 4080Peru have also performed these tracks live. Ray is also currently working with the band 25men, and still keeping up with Speedy Dave.
25men consists of various transient musicians and artists from around the world who contribute to 25men. Designed and directed by James Ray, 25men present an amalgamation of musical and artistic ideas resulting in a sound that takes the sound of Gangwar and 4080peru to another dimension.