A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night, with a memory. I was a pre-teenager, seeing someone named Johnnie Ray on the Jerry Lewis telethon, which I was watching with my parents. They commented on how out-of-shape he looked now that he was past his prime. I was struck by his dramatic and extreme way of using his voice and body.
Waking up in the middle of night for me usually entails a quick Google search or email check along with the usual glass of water or juice. This time, of course, I googled Johnnie Ray and found on YouTube video of him in his prime. I was enthralled by what I found:
According to most biographies, including this excellent one by Linda Rapp on glbtq.com, Ray’s style was a transition from Sinatra to Elvis. Bobby Darin clearly borrowed, too. (This answers.com article has more pictures.)
I’ve never wished I were born 20 years earlier…until now.