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Merrimack Valley

December 18, 2013

Influential country singer Ray Price dead at 87

(Continued)

“You should be so lucky as us old-timers,” Price said in a happily cantankerous post in all capital letters. “Check back in 63 years (the year 2075) and let us know how your name and your music will be remembered.”

Price earned his long-standing fame honestly, weaving himself into the story of modern country music in several ways.

As a young man, Price became friends with Williams, toured with the country legend and shared a house with him in Nashville. Williams even let Price use his band, the Drifting Cowboys, and the two wrote a song together, the modest Price hit “Weary Blues (From Waiting)”.

By 1952 Price was a regular member of the Grand Ole Opry.

The singer had one of country music’s great bands, the Cherokee Cowboys, early in his career. His lineup included at times Nelson, Miller and Johnny Paycheck.

His 1956 version of “Crazy Arms” became a landmark song for both Price and country music. His first No. 1 country hit, the song rode a propulsive beat into the pop top 100 as well. Using a drummer and bassist to create a country shuffle rhythm, he eventually established a sound that would become a trademark.

“It was strictly country and it went pop,” Price said of the song. “I never have figured that one out yet.”

Price was born near Perryville, Texas, in 1926 and was raised in Dallas. He joined the Marines for World War II and then studied to be a veterinarian at North Texas Agricultural College before he decided on music as a career.

Soft-spoken and urbane, Price told the AP in 1976: “I’m my own worst critic. I don’t like to hear myself sing or see myself on television. I see too many mistakes.”

He was one of the few who saw them.

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Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, and Kristin M. Hall in Nashville contributed to this report. Chris Talbott reported from Nashville.

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