June 2004: Ray Charles died in Beverly Hills, California aged 73. He was survived by 11 children, 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Ray Charles (Robinson) is hailed as the father of soul music. He fused blues, rhythm and blues, and gospel during the 1950s and became one of the first black R’n’B artists to achieve crossover success. When he moved to Seattle aged 18 to form the McSon Trio with two friends, early publicity photos for the group were retouched, with sunglasses painted over Ray’s blind eyes. From then on, he started wearing glasses for real, always insisting on designs by Billy Stickles.