Artist of the Month, February 1996
Anybody who listens to rock n' roll and the blues knows the name
Robert Cray, and. H.E.A.R. is very happy to honor Robert Cray as our
January Artist of the Month. Recognized as one of the world's premier
guitarists, Cray and his band have just released their ninth album,
Some Rainy Morning, an album that shows off an artist in complete
control of his art.
Robert Cray Band was born in the misty Northwest in 1974, a group
of young men so dedicated to playing that they would hitchhike from
Eugene to Portland, Oregon in the pouring rain just to rehearse. Cray
was surrounded by music as a young boy and was nurtured on his parents
collection of gospel, jazz, and blues records. When Robert was in
the fifth grade he remembers the impact made by The Beatles. "The
Beatles were on their way to Seattle" Cray has said. "Our
school teacher let us listen to the radio describing the Beatles'
arrival. That's when the guitar became real popular and I got a guitar."
In the early 1980's the Cray band branched out from Portland and
Eugene to Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. It wasn't long before
word spread about their blistering sets of blues and soul and the
dynamic guitarist heading the band. Soon the band found themselves
touring with the late great Albert Collins, and their first national
tour put them on stage with John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon. The
legendary Muddy Waters took to calling Robert his "adopted son".
Touring with Waters provided Cray with one of the biggest thrills
of his life.
The band's first recorded release was Who's Been Talkin'
in 1980. This was followed in 1983 by Bad Influence, and in 1985, when
False Accusations became the #1 album on the indie charts it cemented
the band's reputation as major players in the world of blues.
1986's break-through, platinum-selling Strong Persuader set the global
stage (and worldwide touring schedule) for the band's subsequent five
releases. It also confirmed that Cray's Grammy win (along with Albert
Collins and Johnny Copeland) on 1985's Showdown! was no fluke. Cray's
just-announced eighth career Grammy nomination for the current Some
Rainy Morning continues an unbroken string of consecutive Grammy nominations
or wins for each of The Robert Cray Band's albums released since that
time. In the meantime, rock names have joined the legends of our time
in embracing Cray's fresh approach to classic styles, establishing
musical friendships that continue with top-notch collaborations today.
Beyond his own projects, Cray has worked live or in the studio in
recent years with Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Tina
Turner, B.B. King and Keith Richards, both solo and with The Rolling
With Some Rainy Morning, Cray's guitar licks have gotten stronger
and his band leaner. The current lineup includes the expressive keyboard
playing of Jimmy Pugh, the powerful drumming of Kevin Hayes, and the
tight and funky bass lines of Karl Sevareid. The music is emotional
and authentic. It echoes the blues masters of the past, from Muddy
Waters, Ray Charles, T-Bone Walker, and Thelonious Monk, while pushing
at the contemporary vision's stretched by Cray's own unique stylings.
The Some Rainy Morning tour has taken the Cray Band to 15 countries
in Europe (including seven shows opening for The Rolling Stones) and
over 70 cities throughout North America. Touring is set to continue
through most of 1996.
H.E.A.R. is a fan of Robert Cray and his band and is proud to have
them as our first Artist of the Month for the new year. And, if you
haven't gotten a hold of these cats yet, take a tip from us and do
it now. In concert and on disc Cray and his band are the real deal.
The Robert Cray Band Discography
Who's Been Talkin' 1978 Tomato (released '80)
Bad Influence 1983 HighTone
False Accusations 1985 HighTone
Strong Persuader (Grammy Winner) 1986 Mercury/Hightone
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (Grammy Winner) 1988 Mercury/Hightone
Midnight Stroll (Grammy Nominee) 1990 Mercury
I Was Warned (Grammy Nominee) 1992 Mercury
Shame + A Sin (Grammy Nominee) 1993 Mercury
Some Rainy Morning (Grammy Nominee) 1995 Mercury