Stagecoach 2010: Chatting with Ray Price

Robert Black | April 28th, 2010

ray-price

At the Palomino Tent I was given a few minutes to talk with Ray Price just before his set. Technically, I was not supposed to be back stage, so reaching him took a bit of fast talking, but when I did, Ray was in good spirits and ready to go.

Robert Black: It doesn’t seem like you need to play out as much as you do these days and yet you still keep quite a busy touring schedule. Is that for your fans?

Ray Price: Well yes, that’s it exactly and as long as people keep coming out to my shows and as long as I’m still enjoying playing I’m going to keep doing it.

RB: What do you think of artists that started rediscovering your Honky-Tonk records in the 80’s and 90’s and cite you as an important influence, I’m referring to guys like Dwight Yoakam, Dale Watson and Chuck Mead?

RP: I think it’s wonderful, to feel like you’ve contributed to inspiring people to play good music. I only wish that more of them today would get back to playing more of the traditional country and not so much of the rock. There are plenty of good rock bands out there already, let ‘em have it and we can keep country sounding country.

RB: You’ll get no argument from me there. Who do you like that is making music today.

RP: I’ve always liked George Strait, he does pretty traditional music.

RB: One thing that always surprises me is how many great guys came out of your band over the years; Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson, Darrell McCall…

RP: Yep, Paycheck, Roger Miller…

RB: Are you just good at picking talent?

RP: I think I am. I think I’m good at choosing talented guys. I look for someone who has something different, a special ability that not everyone has and then I just put ‘em in the band.

RB: Out of all the great players you’ve worked with, who was your favorite to work with and can you remember any shows that were special.

RP: Well, I did an album with Willie and Merle Haggard a couple of years ago called ‘Last Of The Breed’ and I really liked doing that record and I think the shows that came out of that, we toured together for a bit, I think those are among my favorite shows that we ever did.

RB: Any chance you’ll tour with those guys again?

RP: Oh, I think so, I certainly would like to.

RB: Y’all won a Grammy for that album and while it seemed unlikely that you would win, I thought it was terrific when you guys did win with one of the most traditional albums that came out in 2006.

RP: That was real nice and I thought it was a nice honor to win that for an album that we enjoyed making so much.

RB: You had Willie Nelson on bass with your backing band The Cherokee Cowboys. Willie seems like an unusual guy to have on bass, I don’t think he had played bass before joining up with your band.

RP: He hadn’t. I asked him if he could play bass and he said that yes he could. I think he went home and worked out all of the bass parts over the weekend and then showed up for the first gig ready to go.

RB: Before Last Of The Breed you did some gospel records that were very good. What interested you in making those recordings?

RP: Well, gospel is something I’ve always been interested in, always enjoyed singing and would like to do more of. I have two more gospel albums to put out once I get done with some of the other stuff I’ve got going on.

RB: In the late 70’s you helped raise money for a chapel at Mississippi State Penitentiary, what motivated you to do that?

RP: I just figured that, if you’re in prison it must be a pretty lonely place to be. I felt that anything I could do to help with that would be worth it.

RB: There but for the grace of God go I?

RP: Yes, that’s it, that’s exactly it.

RB: Last year I got a look at Dale Watson’s tour bus and he said it had been your old bus and pointed out some of the decorations that were done in a Native American motif from when you were touring as Ray Price and The Cherokee Cowboys.

RP: Yeah, how about that? Dale does have that bus but I’ve got another one now, a much newer one!

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  1. [...] Back at the Palomino Tent I was given a few minutes to talk with Ray Price just before his set. Technically, I was not supposed to be back stage, so reaching him took a bit of fast talking but when I did, Ray was in good spirits and ready to go (read the Q&A here). [...]
  1. That Girl!
    April 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    That Willie — what a scamp. Love this interview, Ray seems like he totally still has it, even though he’s in his eighties. I hadn’t heard about the penitentiary chapel, what a neat story!

  2. Benny
    April 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    What a great man, he’s among my very favorite vocalists of any genre.
    “There are plenty of good rock bands out there already, let ‘em have it and we can keep country sounding country.” is a cool quote and he’s right of course, even if his MOR crossover attempts from the late 60s & 70s were done in a similar spirit as today’s Rock-Country I think…
    Anyway, love all his stuff, even the orchestrated Countrypolitan phase! Recently got me Bear Family’s 10-CD set and been listening to not much else the last weeks.
    Nice interview, thanks!

  3. luckyoldsun
    April 28, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Price made some great records in the ’50s.
    I know he had a lot of success in the ’60s and even into the ’70s, but I’m probably not going to listen to anything he’s made in the past…oh, 40 years.

  4. Benny
    April 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    His last solo album ‘Time’ from 2002 is a straightforward Country record and his voice is in best shape – very much recommended and it holds up with the more hyped senior work of people like Cash, Haggard, Nelson, Wagoner etc.

  5. Steve Harvey
    April 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Lovely interview, but the photo makes him look like Hans Moleman.

  6. Razor X
    April 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Nice interview.

  7. Sandra Bates
    July 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    There is only one Ray Price , the best singer , entertainer of all time.He has consistently made brilliant music for over 60 years and he stills promotes it with his rigorous touring schedule. I love to catch interviews that Ray gives . He is honest , to the point and has a great sense of humour.

  8. Mr. Black
    January 30, 2011 at 11:49 am

    It was a treat for me to get to interview Ray Price and I found him to be a warm and congenial subject. He could not have been more friendly or generous with his time or reminiscences and was by turns poignant, quick-witted and down-right hilarious. I didn’t mention it in this piece but at one point Mr. Price grabbed Bobby Bare, who happened by mid-conversation, just so he could introduce him to “this nice boy from Texas who’s interviewing me today.” He also recorded a special hello to my Mom who grew up in South Texas in the nineteen-sixties and was, of course, a fan. There will never be another like Ray.

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