A popular country legend has died. Rest in Peace, Ray Price…

On Sunday afternoon, I was watching a movie on CMT when I noticed a banner across the bottom of the screen that read that country legend Ray Price had died at age 87. I immediately remembered his crossover country pop hit from 1970, “For the Good Times”, which I had heard many times over the years. I posted about Price’s death on Facebook and a friend later said that Price’s death was a rumor. It turned out that it was true Price’s death was a rumor, but only for a few more hours. Ray Price died yesterday at his home in Mount Pleasant, Texas. He was 87 years old and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. He would have been 88 on January 12, 2014.

Price was well-known for a career that spanned almost 40 years. He had a couple of big hits in the 1950s in “Crazy Arms” and “Heartaches By The Number”.

Ray Price performs “Crazy Arms” and “Heartaches By The Number” live, well after they were hits.

Ray Price considered Hank Williams a mentor and they toured together during the 50s. When Williams died at age 29 in 1953, Ray Price took over his band. According to the Los Angeles Times, Price also came up with what was later dubbed the “Ray Price shuffle”. Early country music songs often emphasized the second and fourth beats of a measure. Price asked his bass player to play each beat evenly, which changed the way his music sounded. The band thought it sounded odd, but the change proved to be popular with listeners. Price had a hit that was on the chart for 45 weeks!

Ray Price also notably helped launch the careers of several country singers. Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Roger Miller, and Johnny Bush were all once members of his band, the Cherokee Cowboys. Indeed, it was Willie Nelson who broke the news of Ray Price’s death to me last night, just as I was about to go to sleep. Okay, it was Willie Nelson’s Facebook page that broke the news, which is probably run by someone who works with him. But still, it was pretty obvious that Price had earned a place of respect among plenty of great singers in popular country music.

I will admit that when Ray Price was really popular, I either wasn’t born or wasn’t interested in country music. But there is one song, written by Kris Kristofferson, which I will always associate with the late singer. That would be the gentle break up ballad, “For The Good Times”…

Ray Price sings “For The Good Times” live

There’s something really touching and sweet about this song. The lyrics are comforting and kindly, even though they are about a couple parting ways. The melody is lovely, too. “For The Good Times” resonated with a lot of audiences and was a huge hit. It’s one of those classic songs that will always be in style.

He also sang a beautiful version of “Danny Boy”, a song that is near and dear to a lot of people, especially those of us with Celtic heritage.

This song is paired with a lovely video.

And here, he sings the classic “Faded Love” with Willie Nelson.

I never knew they did this together, but I like it…

Ray Price lived a long and fruitful life and he leaves behind quite a remarkable legacy. I hope wherever he is right now, he is at peace. I am sure that forevermore, he will be remembered “for the good times”…