Ray Price is still alive, despite erroneous reports that the country music legend had died.
On Sunday Price’s son announced that his father had died after a battle with cancer, though his wife Janie Price later clarified that Ray was still alive, but in failing health.
On Sunday evening, Janie posted a brief note on Facebook that corrected the initial reports, saying: “At this time our loveable Ray Price is still with. us. When it is the time there will be a official statement [from] Bill Mack.”
Mack said Ray’s health is of great interest to many country music greats.
“I just spoke with Willie Nelson, who said, ‘I wish Ray would make up his mind,’ ” Mack noted.
But despite the premature report, it is clear that Ray Price is in poor health. He is surrounded by family and friends in his home in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and Janie Price said they are preparing for his death.
“It’s been an honor to walk this road with him,” Janie of her husband. “It’s a sad day. We are losing a great man.”
Ray Price was one of the most successful and influential country music singers, revolutionizing the genre with songs like “Crazy Arms” and “City Lights.”
Price has remained active in music even in his old age.
“I just like what I’ve done and how it’s worked out, and it’s been great,” Price told Rolling Stone earlier this month, in his final interview. “I haven’t lost my voice, thank God for that.”
Ray Price is revered by other artists in the genre. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard toured with Ray Price on their Last of the Breed tour in 2007, and said they were impressed with how well the 80-year-old could still perform.
“I told Willie when it was over, ‘That old man gave us a goddamn singing lesson,’” Haggard told Rolling Stone recently. “He really did. He just sang so good. He sat there with the mic against his chest. And me and Willie are all over the microphone trying to find it, and he found it.”
Loretta Lynn said she was also blown away by just how many hit songs Ray Price had in his career.
“The last time I worked with him, he walked up on that stage and sang hit after hit,” Lynn said. “I looked at my friend and said, ‘I didn’t realize that many hits were there.’ Forty something hits or more.”
Ray Price changed the sound of country music, popularizing drumming in the genre.
“I’d played a lot of dances,” Price said. “Sometimes when you’re playing a lot, everyone will be dancing right in rhythm, so we’d just stop the music all of a sudden and you’d hear their feet shuffle. That kind of blew my head out. I went to the drummer and said, ‘Can you give me a shuffle beat?’ And it just worked out. Everyone picked up on it. I didn’t have any idea what it would do, but it turned out. If there’s one thing you can’t take away from me, I’ve got that.”
Bill Mack, the country radio legend who is working with the Price family to provide updates, said Sunday evening that Ray Price is “fading rapidly” as his cancer has spread into his liver and lungs.