After some initial confusion the day before regarding the health of country music legend Ray Price, his death was confirmed today by veteran country disc jockey Bill Mack, a spokesman for Mr. Price’s family. Price passed away Monday at his home in Mount Pleasant, Texas, from complications stemming from the pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in 2011. He was 87.
Price honed his craft at the heels of his friend and once roommate Hank Williams, who’s band he inherited, and rechristened the Cherokee Cowboys, in the wake of William’s death.
Price was an early practitioner of the 4/4 beat, later called the “Ray Price beat,” that then went on to become a standard of the genre.
with songs like “Crazy Arms” and Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times” Price was also a pioneer in bringing country music to a wider audience. With 109 songs charting between 1952-89, His history on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart spans more than 37 years with 46 top 10 entries, eight of those reaching No. 1.
Price last charting album was the collaboration with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson “Last of the Breed.”
“I have fought prejudice since I got in country music and I will continue to fight it,” he told The Associated Press in 1981. “A lot of people want to keep country music in the minority of people. But it belongs to the world. It’s art.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall of Fame member was a staunch advocate for the dignity of classic country music. Last year price responded on Facebook to Blake Shelton’s classic-country “Old Farts” & “Jackasses” slam.
The ruckus played out on the Internet and introduced Price to a new generation of country fans.
“You should be so lucky as us old-timers,” Price said in a happily cantankerous post in all capital letters. “Check back in 63 years (the year 2075) and let us know how your name and your music will be remembered.”
Price follows George Jones as country music legends that have passed this year.