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Artist of the Month: Robert CrayArtist of the Month, February 1996

Robert Cray

Anybody who listens to rock n' roll and the blues knows the name Robert Cray, and. H.E.A.R. is very happy to honor Robert Cray as our January Artist of the Month. Recognized as one of the world's premier guitarists, Cray and his band have just released their ninth album, Some Rainy Morning, an album that shows off an artist in complete control of his art.

The Robert Cray Band was born in the misty Northwest in 1974, a group of young men so dedicated to playing that they would hitchhike from Eugene to Portland, Oregon in the pouring rain just to rehearse. Cray was surrounded by music as a young boy and was nurtured on his parents collection of gospel, jazz, and blues records. When Robert was in the fifth grade he remembers the impact made by The Beatles. "The Beatles were on their way to Seattle" Cray has said. "Our school teacher let us listen to the radio describing the Beatles' arrival. That's when the guitar became real popular and I got a guitar."

In the early 1980's the Cray band branched out from Portland and Eugene to Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. It wasn't long before word spread about their blistering sets of blues and soul and the dynamic guitarist heading the band. Soon the band found themselves touring with the late great Albert Collins, and their first national tour put them on stage with John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon. The legendary Muddy Waters took to calling Robert his "adopted son". Touring with Waters provided Cray with one of the biggest thrills of his life.

Robert Cray BandThe band's first recorded release was Who's Been Talkin' in 1980. This was followed in 1983 by Bad Influence, and in 1985, when False Accusations became the #1 album on the indie charts it cemented the band's reputation as major players in the world of blues.

1986's break-through, platinum-selling Strong Persuader set the global stage (and worldwide touring schedule) for the band's subsequent five releases. It also confirmed that Cray's Grammy win (along with Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland) on 1985's Showdown! was no fluke. Cray's just-announced eighth career Grammy nomination for the current Some Rainy Morning continues an unbroken string of consecutive Grammy nominations or wins for each of The Robert Cray Band's albums released since that time. In the meantime, rock names have joined the legends of our time in embracing Cray's fresh approach to classic styles, establishing musical friendships that continue with top-notch collaborations today. Beyond his own projects, Cray has worked live or in the studio in recent years with Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, B.B. King and Keith Richards, both solo and with The Rolling Stones.

With Some Rainy Morning, Cray's guitar licks have gotten stronger and his band leaner. The current lineup includes the expressive keyboard playing of Jimmy Pugh, the powerful drumming of Kevin Hayes, and the tight and funky bass lines of Karl Sevareid. The music is emotional and authentic. It echoes the blues masters of the past, from Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, T-Bone Walker, and Thelonious Monk, while pushing at the contemporary vision's stretched by Cray's own unique stylings. The Some Rainy Morning tour has taken the Cray Band to 15 countries in Europe (including seven shows opening for The Rolling Stones) and over 70 cities throughout North America. Touring is set to continue through most of 1996.

H.E.A.R. is a fan of Robert Cray and his band and is proud to have them as our first Artist of the Month for the new year. And, if you haven't gotten a hold of these cats yet, take a tip from us and do it now. In concert and on disc Cray and his band are the real deal.

The Robert Cray Band Discography

  • Who's Been Talkin' 1978 Tomato (released '80)

  • Bad Influence 1983 HighTone

  • False Accusations 1985 HighTone

  • Strong Persuader (Grammy Winner) 1986 Mercury/Hightone

  • Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (Grammy Winner) 1988 Mercury/Hightone

  • Midnight Stroll (Grammy Nominee) 1990 Mercury

  • I Was Warned (Grammy Nominee) 1992 Mercury

  • Shame + A Sin (Grammy Nominee) 1993 Mercury

  • Some Rainy Morning (Grammy Nominee) 1995 Mercury


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