Ray Charles tunes

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The Genius!

Ray Charles’s tunes can be divided into three categories. Written by him, written for him, and covered by him.

In either of these three ways, Ray Charles always managed to make the tunes his own, which is interesting as he started as a Nat King Cole wannabe!

Nat was Ray’s big hero and he imitated him so well that when it came time to record, the producers and labels had to tell him: If we wanted Nat, we’d call him!

Anyway, soon Ray got it together and began recording fully as himself, which would result in Ray Charles becoming one of the most influential artists of all time, his peers referring to him as The Genius!

Ray Charles’s first release that we know as a jazz standard, was Baby Won’t You Please Come Home. Released by Ray in 1952, it didn’t chart, perhaps because it wasn’t released on a major label, perhaps it was because so many other artists had already had a hit with it, including Bessie Smith, Clarence Williams, Louie Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Count Basie, Bing Crosby, and Benny Goodman!

In 1953 things would change for Ray as he was now signed to Atlantic and the president of the label, Ahmet Ertegun had written a song for him in Mess Around. This would be Ray’s first big tune, it reached #3 in the charts.

The following year he had his first success with a composition of his own in I Got A Woman, which reached #1, and 51 years later would be sampled by Kanye West for his hit Gold Digger.

1955 and another #1 in A Fool For You, 1956, and three big tunes in Drown In My Own Tears (#1), Mary Ann (#1), and Hallelujah I Love Her So which didn’t get to #1 but with time became one of Ray’s most loved tunes.

Next, it would be three years before another big single would appear from our favourite Ray, but this was a big one in What’d I Say in 1959.

Following this, Ray would swap the record label for ABC. Here he released Georgia On My Mind, Hit The Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, I Can’t Stop Loving You, You Don’t Know Me, and You Are My Sunshine

This all happened between 1960-1962 and must be seen as Ray’s most productive period.

Post-1963, Ray Charles didn’t have any more big hits as such, at least not ones that lasted, tunes that he released first and became synonymous with Ray Charles as an artist. 

During the late ’60s and ’70s, he continued to release his own songs and covers such as The BeatlesYesterday and Eleanor Rigby as well as Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City, but the creative glory days were somewhat over.

However, by now he had such a huge catalogue that he didn’t need it anymore. Although he did have one more ace up his sleeve.

In 1980, he performed a cover of Shake A Tailfeather in the movie The Blues Brothers. This reminded us all of how great Ray Charles is and the tune made it onto every soul band’s repertoire since.

Ray would continue to tour and perform, his last gig was on the 30th of April, 2004. He passed away less than two months later aged 73.

Ray Charles Tunes | Related Pages

Angel Eyes

Angels Eyes chords

You can learn how to play Angel Eyes by Frank Sinatra using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.

Am Am/G Am/F# Am/F | Am/E Am/Eb |
Try to think that love’s not around…

Baby Won’t You Please Come Home

Baby Won't You Please Come Home chords and guitar lessons

Learn how to play Baby Won’t You Please Come Home by Clarence Williams using chords, lyrics, and a Spytunes video guitar lesson.

| D7 | B7 | Em7 | A7 |
Baby won’t you please come home, ’cause your mama’s all alone…

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia On My Mind chords

You can learn how to play Georgia On My Mind by Ray Charles using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.

G | B7/F# B7 |
Georgia, Georgia…

Hit The Road Jack

Hit The Road Jack chords

You can learn how to play Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.

G#m F# | E7 D#7 |
Hit the road Jack, and don’t you come back…

I Got A Woman

I Got A Woman chords

You can learn how to play I Got A Woman by Ray Charles using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.

A7 | E7 | A7 D9 | A7 |
Well, I got a woman, way over town that’s good to me, oh yeah…

Shake A Tail Feather

Shake A Tail Feather chords

You can learn how to play Shake A Tail Feather by the Blues Brothers and Ray Charles using chords, lyrics, TAB, and the original recording.

D5 (D6) | G (G6) |
Well, I heard about the fellow you’ve been dancin’ with…

Ray Charles on the web

Listen to Ray Charles on Spotify


Artist and Band biographies

Behind every single tune you learn, there’s an artist or band with an entire catalogue of music, waiting to be discovered.

Find out more about these great women and men, and let their tunes guide you to success with these Artist & Band biographies.

About me

About Me Dan Lundholm T

This article about Ray Charles tunes was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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