Glossary entry for
Ray, Johnnie

Johnnie Ray was an American pop singer, also very popular in the UK, in the days before rock and roll. In fact, he was one of many whose careers were swamped by the coming of Elvis, etc.

His first major hit was a tune called "Cry". Very schmaltzy, emotional ditty, and in the course of just about every performance, Ray would indeed cry. After that, it became his trademark. Practically every tune he did had the word "cry" or "crying" in it and Ray would blubber away at every opportunity. People concluded after a while that it was a stupid gimmick, that the guy just had the uncanny ability to cry at the drop of a hat. My recollection of the story may be a little shakey from here, but I seem to recall that Ray suffered some kind of mental breakdown as his career went into a power dive and he was never really the same after that.

I conclude that in "Sometimes We Cry" VM is doing two things: a subtle nod to Ray because the title includes "cry", and a less-subtle but clever reference to Ray's breakdown and to the fact that he (VM) really will be crying when they take him away, not faking it like Johnnie Ray.

Contributed by Jim Chiarelli

[photo of Ray at mic] Johnnie Ray was born on January 10, 1927 in The Dalles, Oregon. He became partially deaf after an accident, and wore a hearing aid starting at age 14. With the help of Al Green, he signed a record contract in 1951, and "Cry" was a major hit that year, remaining at number one for eleven weeks. "Cry" was later revived by Ray Charles

He was married to a Marilyn Morrison from '52 to '54, when they were divorced. In 1954, he appeared in the Irving Berlin film, There's No Business Like Show Business. Though his popularity faded in the U.S. in the late 50's, partly due to his open bisexuality, it continued in the UK. In later years he had liver problems, and died of liver failure on February 24, 1990.

His name is spelled Johnnie, not Johnny, and it's said that he became enraged if anyone misspelled it.

In an April 1998 interview in The Irish Times, Van mentions Johnnie Ray:

"...a friend's brother was really into Johnnie Ray and he was always being played on the radio. Some people say that Johnnie Ray invented rock 'n' roll but the main ones for me were Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee."

Photo and preceding text contributed by Neil Simmons

Apparently, he was satirized in John Waters' film Cry-Baby

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