Ray Price Dies: 'Crazy Arms' Country Singer Was 87

Image: Ray Price Dies: 'Crazy Arms' Country Singer Was 87

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 10:36 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Legendary country music Grammy winner Ray Price, 87, died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Mount Pleasant, Texas on Monday.

Price, whose 1956 song "Crazy Arms" became his signature hit, created what Hank Williams guitarist Don Helms called the "Ray Price beat" in country music, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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"We were having trouble getting a good, clean bass sound," Price said in a 1998 Washington Post interview. "So instead of going with the standard 2/4 beat, I said, 'Let's try a 4/4 bass and a shuffle rhythm,' and it cut. It cut clean through."

Price said it was that experimentation that paved the way for the composition of "Crazy Arms," which became the No. 1 country song for 20 weeks in 1956.

"To this date, the 4/4 shuffle is so deeply embedded in country music as to be second nature to many," Daniel Cooper wrote of Price in the "Encyclopedia of Country Music."

Price produced more than 100 hits throughout his musical career that spanned from 1952 to 1989. He earned his second Grammy in 2007 after joining Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard for the album "One of a Kind."

His first Grammy came in 1970 with the song "For the Good Times," which was credited with reviving his career. He moved from honky-tonk singing to ballads, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Price was born on Jan. 12, 1926 in Perryville, Texas. He was raised in Dallas by his mother after his parents divorced. He spent summers on his father's farm in Perryville. The rural and urban lifestyles influenced his musical style.

Price attended North Texas Agricultural College after serving in the Marines two years. He began singing in nightclubs and was discovered by the producer Jim Beck. Beck signed him to a contract on Nashville's Bullet Records label.

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