|Born: April 22, 1940|
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The younger of two sons by Katherine and George Griff. Due to a break up of the marriage and financial hardships, Katherine left with her two sons and moved to Winfield Alberta where she found employment as a bookkeeper. Her sheer determination and years of sacrificing is what molded Ray! With a stuttering problem, although it was very difficult for Ray, he was determined to do something special with his life. Having a great love for music, at the age of eight, Ray along with his brother Ken and three other local kids, formed a band calling themselves "The Winfield Amateurs," a title that later became one of Rays most popular songs. Ray sang and played drums in the band!
Saving his pennies, Ray purchased through a mail order catalogue, a Palm Beach guitar that he taught himself to play. It was about this time that Ray started writing songs! A milestone however was when Katherine scraped together enough funds to buy an old upright piano. Since there was no money for lessons, Ray taught himself to play the piano as well.
When Ray turned twelve the family decided to move to Calgary, Alberta Canada. Coming into adulthood Ray worked at a grocery store after school and on weekends, to help with the family bills. Ray loved sports and although there was little time to participate, Ray received a special invitation from the Canadian Olympic team, after he had set a record in the long jump at a city school track meet. In his continued quest for a career in music Ray felt best to decline!
Ray fronted his own group in the late 50's called The Blue Echoes, and began to earn a name for himself in and around Calgary, performing at high school hops and at local community affairs. It was during one of these performances that he attracted the attention of local radio personality and promoter D'Arcy Scott, who asked Ray to be the opening act for the great Johnny Horton on a tour of Western Canada. Ray was sixteen and his dreams were beginning to come true!
During the tour Ray played a song he had written for Johnny called "Mister Moonlight", which Johnny included in his classic album "The Battle Of New Orleans". Ray decided to quit school and took a day job to make enough money to get to Nashville to pitch his songs. He also entertained at a local nightclub, being the first live entertainment to perform in Calgary when the Liquor Bill was passed.
Ray made his first trip to Nashville in 1961 when he was 20, leaving countless tapes of his songs with music publishers and labels, at the same time doing his first session as an artist, recording "The Racing King", which became a pop hit across Canada. For the next two years Ray fine-tuned his talents as a songwriter and performer. It was after a Jim Reeves concert in Calgary that Ray presented Jim with his song "Where Do I Go From Here". Jim not only recorded the song on his next album, he invited Ray to move to Nashville. After completing a Canadian nightclub tour, Ray made the long anticipated move to Music City in 1964, with forty dollars in his pocket and a million dreams.
Shortly after Ray's arrival, his friend and mentor Jim Reeves was killed! Ray spent the first few weeks sleeping in his car. Though devastated and alone, he was determined to make it in the world of country music! Ray got a job repairing pianos from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon, when he would pitch his songs to record labels until closing time. He would then work from six until midnight at a record pressing plant to help make ends meet. Even with his heavy timetable Ray managed to write songs as well as getting his high school diploma through a correspondence course. Bob Ferguson, a record producer in town was so impressed with this young man that he hired Ray to pitch songs for his publishing company. Ray's fee was thirty dollars a week and a place to sleep in the back of the office.
It wasn't long before Ray was in the studio, self- producing and recording "Don't Lead Me On" and "That Weepin' Willow Tree". The session was presented to Chet Atkins at RCA and Ray was signed to its subsidiary label, Groove Records. Ray remained with the label until artistic differences led him to be let out of his contract. Shortly thereafter Ray played a song for renowned producer Owen Bradley. The song was "Baby". Owen recorded the song with Wilma Burgess; a new artist on Decca and Ray's career as a songwriter and music publisher was under way.
For the next twenty plus years Ray Griff would remain one of the hottest songwriters and music publishers in Country music. His successes have brought him over forty singles in the top 100, as well as being the recipient of eighty seven ASCAP and BMI citations as a song writer, artist, producer and publisher, taking home an unprecedented sixteen ASCAP awards two years running in 1975 and 1976. Ray has written over two thousand songs and has had more than five hundred and fifty of his songs recorded by such artists as Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, Marty Robbins, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Wayne Newton, Lavern Baker, Met Tillis, George Jones, Conway Twitty, George Hamilton IV, Jerry Lee Lewis, Slim Whitman, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Johnny Duncan, Ferlin Husky, Charlie Pride, Crystal Gayle, Gene Watson, Hank Snow and Carl Smith. Ray has scored with such hits as "Lily White Hands", "Patches", "You Ring My Bell" and "The Morning After Baby Let Me Down". Ray also hosted his own network television show in Canada as well as appearing as a guest on such television shows as "The Dean Martin Show", "The Kenny Rogers Rollin' On The River TV Show" and "The Tommy Hunter Show". Rays on stage performances earned him the name "The Entertainer"!
As a record producer Ray has helped launch the careers of such as artists as Glory Anne, Sharon Lowness, Jack Bailey, Sheila Anne and Jason McCoy. When his mother became ill in the mid eighties Ray arranged his touring schedule to keep him in Alberta, to be close to her until her passing in 1990.
In 1989 Ray was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame and in 1998 was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Honor. In 1998 Ray returned to his homeland Canada, where he is offering his services as an independent record producer and music consultant although he commutes on a regular basis to Nashville where he has an office and residence. In 2001 Ray recorded and released his first album as a recording artist in fifteen years entitled "See Ya, Love Ya, Bye". To the delight of his many fans he's started to tour and perform again.
This bio was donated by the folks at The Official Website of Ray Griff.
Songwriter Vocals Drums Guitar Piano|