OccupationsSinger-songwriter, arranger, pianistInstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboardsYears active1958–presentLabelsNRC, Mercury, Monument, Barnaby, Warner Bros., RCA, MCA, Curb, CBS, JanusWebsiteRayStevens.comNotable instrumentsPiano
He was born in Clarkdale, Georgia, a small town west of Atlanta. Stevens’ recording career began in the mid-1950s with two singles released on Prep Records. He then signed a contract with Capitol Records with the help of Atlanta, Georgia music maven Bill Lowery. In 1958, Stevens joined Lowery’s National Recording Corporation (NRC), playing numerous instruments, arranging music, and performing background vocals for its band. After NRC filed for bankruptcy, he signed with Mercury Records with whom Stevens recorded a series of hit records in the 1960s that included songs such as “Ahab the Arab“, “Harry the Hairy Ape“, “Funny Man,” the original recording of “Santa Claus Is Watching You“, and “Jeremiah Peabody’s Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills“. A shortened version of “Ahab the Arab” reached the Top-5 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1962. This was the song that introduced Stevens to most of his fan base.
In 1966, Stevens signed with Monument Records and started to release serious material such as “Mr. Businessman” in 1968, a Top 30 pop hit; “Have a Little Talk With Myself” and the original version of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” in 1969, which became Stevens’ first two singles to reach the country music charts. O.C. Smith covered the Stevens-penned Isn’t It Lonely Together while Sammy Davis, Jr. covered Have a Little Talk With Myself. Stevens continued releasing novelty songs, and in 1969 he had a Top 10 pop hit with “Gitarzan“. Stevens also became a regular on The Andy Williams Show during the 1969–1970 season, and he hosted his own summer show, The Ray Stevens Show, in 1970. In Australia, Ross D. Wylie reached the Top-20 with his cover of the Stevens-penned, Funny Man.
As an A&R man, music producer, songwriter, and music arranger he assisted countless artists in the recording studio during his years at Mercury Records and Monument Records, 1961 through early 1970. Some of the acts he was associated with during that time period were Brenda Lee, Brook Benton, Patti Page, Joe Dowell, Dusty Springfield, and Dolly Parton. Stevens was a writer or co-writer of several songs those particular acts recorded. My True Confession , a Top-10 on the R&B chart in 1963 for Brook Benton, was written by Stevens and Margie Singleton. Stevens was the arranger for an obscure Doyle Holly recording titled “My Heart Cries For You” which had been recorded previously by Stevens during the late 1950s.
Starting in the 1970s, Stevens became a producer and well-known studio musician on the Nashville scene. He recorded songs for Barnaby Records and Warner Brothers during 1970–1979. Stevens’ biggest hit in the United States was his gospel-inflected single “Everything Is Beautiful” (1970). The single won a Grammy Award, was the theme song for his summer 1970 TV show, hit #1 on both the pop and Adult-Contemporary charts, and marked his first time in the Top 40 on the country charts, peaking at #39. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. His other 1970 singles were “America, Communicate With Me” and “Sunset Strip”, both of which reached the Top-20 on the Adult-Contemporary lists. His novelty song “Bridget the Midget (The Queen of The Blues)” made #2 on the United Kingdom chart in 1971 and in the US it reached #50. Stevens had a gospel/country hit single in early 1972 with Albert E. Brumley‘s “Turn Your Radio On“, reaching the country Top 20. Two more of Stevens’ songs in 1971 were also minor pop hits, “A Mama and a Papa” and “All My Trials,” but both crossed over to the Top 10 Adult-Contemporary lists. Stevens frequently toured Canada and went overseas to the UK. A rock-infected gospel arrangement accompanied his version of “Love Lifted Me” and it became a hit single in Bangkok in the fall of 1972, finding its way into the Top-5 for the week ending September 30.
In 1973, Stevens had a top 40 country hit with the title track of his album, “Nashville”, and increased his exposure on television by performing on a variety of prime-time programs of the era. In 1974, Stevens recorded perhaps his most famous hit, “The Streak“, which poked fun at the early-1970s fad of running nude in public, known as “streaking“. It made No. 1 in both the UK and the USA and No. 3 on the country chart. Stevens’ tenure with Barnaby came to an end in early 1976. In 1975, he released the Grammy-winning “Misty“, which became his biggest country hit (reaching #3 on the country charts and #14 on the pop charts); he also entered the country Top 40 with a doo-wop version of “Indian Love Call“, “Everybody Needs a Rainbow“, and a ballad version of “Young Love” in early 1976.
Stevens joined Warner Brothers in 1976, where his debut was a strong showing with three hit singles in a row. The first was the up-tempo version of “You Are So Beautiful“, which reached the country Top 20, then “Honky Tonk Waltz“, which reached the Top 30. He then released a novelty single: under the pseudonym “Henhouse Five Plus Too,” Stevens recorded a version of Glenn Miller‘s “In The Mood” in the style of a clucking chicken; it became a Top 40 hit in the US and UK in early 1977. In 1978 he had a hit with “Be Your Own Best Friend” on the country charts, and in 1979 he had a hit on the Hot 100 pop chart with the novelty “I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow“, which he released from the album The Feeling’s Not Right Again. He joined RCA in late 1979, releasing new material in 1980.
After joining RCA in 1980, Stevens continued having hit singles, but with somewhat less success than in the previous decade. His debut single, the Top 10 “Shriner’s Convention” and then the Top 20 love ballad “Night Games” performed relatively well on the charts. In 1981, only one single made the charts, the Top 40 hit “One More Last Chance.” In 1982, after he had released a few more singles, notably the Top 40 “Written Down in My Heart”, Stevens left RCA and returned to Mercury Records, the label that made him a star in the early 1960s. This resulted in only one album, the 1983 project Me, and only one chart hit, “My Dad”, in early 1984.
Stevens then joined MCA in 1984 as a “country comedy” act and thereafter released only novelty song albums. The fan-voted Music City News awards named Stevens Comedian of the Year annually for nine consecutive years from 1986 to 1994. However, Stevens’ singles were no longer making the Top 40 charts as they were considered comedy–novelty, and country radio resisted playing songs that were not serious. A few of Stevens’ commercial singles charted on the Single Sales charts during this time, but only one single, “Mississippi Squirrel Revival“, made it to the Top 40. “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” reached the Top 20, making that his final single to hit the Top-40 portion of the country singles chart. “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex” is the only single during his 1984–1989 stint on MCA that came close to reaching the Top 40, stalling at #41 in 1987. Second to that, the other single close to hitting the Top 40 on the country chart was the #45 hit “The Haircut Song” in 1985.
His comedy albums were nonetheless enjoying widespread success. His first series of albums for MCA all made the country charts with several of them remaining on the charts for months at a time. His first two albums for MCA reached the Top-5 with I Have Returned hitting the top spot in early 1986. Afterward his albums routinely peaked in the middle of the charts. A 1987 Greatest Hits album became a platinum seller while several other releases achieved gold status. One of the trademarks of Stevens’ string of comedy albums were the photo shoots. For example, on one album he’s dressed up as Napoleon Bonaparte, on another he’s Humpty Dumpty, and on another he’s dressed as General Douglas MacArthur. Stevens’ lack of airplay wasn’t affecting his ability to sell records. National shows like Hee-Haw and a variety of programs on The Nashville Network that frequently gave exposure to all forms of country music.
Stevens left MCA in 1989 for Curb/Capitol Records. His first release arrived in 1990. The two labels split up soon after and Curb Records continued releasing material on Stevens. His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits, a compilation project released by Curb in 1990, became a gold album by mid-decade. Lend Me Your Ears and #1 With a Bullet were released in 1990 and 1991 respectively. The latter featured the satirical hit “Working for the Japanese” in which Stevens sings about the American economy and how dollars are boosting overseas economies instead of its own.
In the 1990s, Stevens took new directions. The most ambitious was the opening of his own theater in Branson, Missouri in 1991. The theater business had been steadily growing in the small Missouri town of Branson for a period of years and by the time Stevens began building his theater the area was reaching its peak. Stevens benefited from the theater boom largely because his stage show was different from others. His reputation as a comedian and as an all-around entertainer meant that for most tourists his show was one of the destination spots judging by the number of sold-out performances he gave at the theater. When crowds reacted favorably to his music videos being played on a large screen at his theater Stevens began selling videos for his fans to take home.
In the spring and summer of 1992, his Comedy Video Classics became a million-selling home video through direct marketing and television advertisements. Commercials for Stevens’ home video aired countless times throughout 1992, mostly in the morning hours and often during late-night. Branson was also experiencing its highest commercial peak in the summer and fall of both 1992 and 1993. Ray Stevens was back in the national media once again with his enormously successful home video and music theater. In the midst of all the success, though, Stevens closed down his theater after the 1993 season citing exhaustion and monotony after doing two shows a day, six days a week, for five to six months at a time. Several of his performances at his theater were filmed and surfaced in home video form. Ray Stevens Live! became another home video mail-order success in 1993 following the same path of Comedy Video Classics.
Meanwhile, Comedy Video Classics had become available for retail distribution and it became a big seller again. In 1993, it was named Home Video of the Year by Billboard magazine in their annual end of the year publication which cites the most popular artists, songs, CDs, and video items of the year.
Classic Ray Stevens was issued in the early fall of 1993. This was the first audio release from Stevens since early 1991. The album’s title was a reference to the classical-looking photo shoot which features a bust of Ray Stevens mocking Beethoven. The home video of Ray Stevens Live! was released to retail stores in 1994 and it became a Top-5 success on Billboard’s Home Video chart. The concert video often ranked above or below Comedy Video Classics on the charts. In the late summer of 1995, the movie Get Serious! was released on home video.
The movie, which runs 1 hour and 50 minutes, offers several plots and a collection of newly-produced music videos which act as commentary to the action. One plot point of the movie centers on a fictional record company for which Stevens records being bought out by a Japanese conglomerate. This is a reference to the consolidation practices taking place in the music industry. Another plot-point deals with Stevens’ reputation as a comical singer and how the new executive of the fictional record company, based vocally on Paul Lynde, wants Stevens to change his image from comedy to classical opera. Stevens refuses and this brings to the surface another plot-point of the movie: political correctness. Seeking revenge on Stevens, the executive hatches a plan to ruin Stevens’ career by labeling him politically incorrect. The last plot-point centers on character defamation as numerous characters from several Stevens songs turn out to really exist and they want to sue the singer for defamation. This plot is based on a song that Stevens recorded in 1986 entitled “Dudley Dorite of the Highway Patrol” where a local policeman stops Stevens for speeding and afterward informs the singer that he’s in a whole lot of trouble for using easily identifiable people as characters in his songs. The song was re-recorded specifically for the movie as Dudley Dorite is one of the main characters in the movie. He’s portrayed by Stevens’ long-time songwriting partner, C.W. Kalb, Jr..
The home video became another mail-order success throughout 1995 and was released to retail stores, via MCA, late in 1996. The video hit the Top-5 on Billboard’s Home Video chart early in 1997 during a more than 20 week chart run. Stevens had by this point exited Curb Records.
Stevens found a new home with his previous label, MCA. MCA was responsible for the retail distribution of Get Serious! and for marketing Ray as a comical singer for the first time in the mid-1980s.
The reunion with MCA consisted of the retail release of Get Serious! in late 1996 and two new audio CD’s in 1997: Hum It and Christmas Through a Different Window, the latter release being a collection of Christmas novelty songs. After the MCA contract ended, Stevens became exclusive to his own label, Clyde Records, for a period of years.
On-line rumors began circulating about his death. The confusion may have arisen in the summer of 1996 following the death of a wrestler named Ray “The Crippler” Stevens. The singer Ray Stevens once recorded a wrestling song entitled “The Blue Cyclone”. Stevens the singer reported to the media that his office had received thousands of sympathy cards due to the confusion.
In April 1999 Stevens was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and had to cancel his series of concerts at the Acuff Theatre that summer. Stevens received a clean bill of health upon successful surgery and returned to the stage in time to deliver his Christmas concert series.
After the partnership with MCA ended, he remained active on his own label, Clyde Records, until he found another home with Curb Records, returning to the label in 2001. Early in 2002, “Osama Yo’ Mama” was released. It made the country Top 50, reached the Top-5 on the country single sales chart, achieved Gold selling status, and the album of the same name reached the country Top-30. After the release of this album Stevens returned to Branson, Missouri and re-opened his theater in 2004. He remained active there for three more seasons. He shut the theater down for good after the 2006 season.
An obscure release called “The New Battle of New Orleans” came along in 2005 as a response to the vandals and looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many people confused the version of The New Battle of New Orleans by its principal writer, Chuck Redden, with the version by Stevens. The recording by the writer features much more pointed accusations and assertions and it is this version which appears on various web-sites specializing in lyric re-printing. The confusion arises when these web-sites credit Stevens as the singer of that version.
Ray and his songwriter friend Buddy Kalb removed a lot of the original lyrics in the song and supplied new lyrics in a more G-rated setting. In spite of the various lyrical re-writes by Stevens and Kalb, the overall point of the song that the locals expected and demanded too much from their government, is still clear. The song was issued as a single-only in 2005.
Curb Records, in the meantime, continued to release DVD music video collections on Stevens during this time. The music videos featured limited animation.
Stevens returned to releasing music once again in 2007, firstly in July 2007, with the single-only “Ruby Falls”, a combination of jazz, blues, and country music, and secondly with the CD New Orleans Moon, released on his own label. This CD contains various songs in tribute and honor to New Orleans and Louisiana. Stevens covers “Louisiana Man“, “Louisiana”, “The Battle of New Orleans“, “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans“, “New Orleans”, and several more.
The following year Stevens issued the album Hurricane, also on his own label. It was released in February 2008 at Stevens’ on-line music store at his website then was released nationally in November of that year to a wider audience. This CD featured a wide array of comical songs including a pair of redneck anthems, “Hey Bubba, Watch This!” and “Bubba the Wine Connoisseur”. The CD also marked the debut of “Sucking Sound“, a political/economic song about Ross Perot and how his warnings of the flaws in a global economy, which were mocked in 1992, became somewhat of a reality by 2008 resulting in massive lay-offs and job losses.
Concurrently in 2008, a tribute to the songs of Frank Sinatra that Stevens recorded was also being offered at the web-site store during the latter half of 2008. The album is titled Ray Stevens Sings Sinatra…Say What?? and it became nationally distributed in February 2009. Stevens did not promote or publicize the tribute album. Later in 2009 he released One for the Road, a CD aimed primarily at truckers. It was sold exclusively at the Pilot truck stops for several weeks prior to its release nationally. The CD contains a mixture of material ranging from truck driver oriented songs to somber ballads. There are also several re-recordings of his greatest hits added into the equation. There are fifteen tracks featured on the trucker CD in which the first three tracks, in addition to track seven, specifically deal with situations while on the road: “Concrete Sailor”, “Convoy”, “Right Reverend Road Hog McGraw”, and “Hang Up and Drive”. “Mary Lou Nights” and “Oh, Lonesome Me“. “Retired” originated as a duet between Stevens and Brent Burns but for this CD it is delivered solo.
In 2009 Stevens was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame and he appeared on the PBS series Legends and Lyrics. A television show that Stevens stars in, We Ain’t Dead Yet, became available to subscribers at his web page. The subscription is to an exclusive section of his web-page called “Ray Stevens Backstage” and each month a different episode becomes available. The series focuses on senior citizens and it usually features a special guest each episode stopping by the main set, a retirement home, to perform songs.
In the early fall of 2009 Stevens released a holiday collection of songs titled Ray Stevens Christmas. Late in November an EP became available featuring a couple of his serious Christmas songs but the main attraction was his cover of Seymour Swine’s (a fictional group that recorded a stuttering rendition of “Blue Christmas“) “Blue Christmas”, complete with stutter. Stevens had also recorded a non-comical version of this song for his Ray Stevens Christmas release. The stuttering version can only be found on the EP release.
In December 2009, Stevens issued the single and on-line video “We the People”, which quickly became a viral video and surpassed a million unique views in a month’s time on You Tube. The video is critical of health care reform. Stevens followed this music video with “Caribou Barbie” in March 2010. This music video is about Sarah Palin. The video uses a Palin impersonator and through the help of sight-gags it takes aim at several high-profile personalities on cable television. Stevens issued another music video on YouTube, “Throw the Bums Out!“, as a direct response to the March 2010 passage of health care reform legislation in the House of Representatives.
In April 2010 Stevens released a collection that includes a CD and a DVD, titled We the People. The project features 22 political songs. The four music videos on the DVD are “We the People”, “Caribou Barbie”, “Throw the Bums Out!”, and “Thank You”. Stevens appeared in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2010, as part of the tax day rally associated with the Tea Party. On April 24, 2010 the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored the career of Ray Stevens in the recurring series “Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians”. The special focused mostly on Stevens’ career as a Nashville-session musician during the 1960s and 1970s.
On May 13, 2010, the music video of “Come to the USA”, was released. This is a song dealing with the hot button issue of illegal immigration. The song uses exaggeration and small doses of satire to comment on illegal immigration acceptance internationally compared with the United States’ more passive policy. The song was written and recorded before the Arizona illegal immigration bill, SB 1070, was introduced to the nation. The music video became Stevens’ second to surpass a million unique views on You Tube; the first being “We the People”. Following the release of the “Come to the USA” music video Stevens found himself being spotlighted again on the Fox News Channel and then by The New York Times. Stevens’ We the People CD made its Top-10 debut on the Billboard Comedy Album chart for the week ending June 26, 2010, and it moved into the Top-5 for the week ending July 3, 2010. Meanwhile, a new music video, “The Global Warming Song”, had become available on You Tube on June 29. The song, the sixth release from his We the People CD, is a broad exaggeration on the global warming topic, drawing inspiration from the concept of the Earth’s temperature rising beyond control. The song depicts a couple of brothers who hold fort in a frozen wasteland with a money-making scheme of awaiting the arrival of climate change. The song is purposely silly and plays on the fears of global warming.
Starting in July 2010 and running through August most PBS stations aired a special titled Marvin Hamlisch Presents the 1970s: The Way We Were during pledge drive fundraisers. The special celebrates the music of the 1970s and Ray Stevens participated in the proceedings. Stevens’ contributions include “Everything Is Beautiful“, “The Streak“, and “Misty“. On July 31 Stevens made a guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.
On August 4, 2010 a new music video from Stevens made its debut on You Tube. This time around the subject matter is the Federal Government of the United States and the on-going war of words with Arizona over immigration. The song, “God Save Arizona”, criticizes the policies of the Federal Government and it questions the competence of Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General with regards to the Federal lawsuit brought against Arizona. The beginning of the song starts out as a tribute to the U.S.S. Arizona during World War II before switching to a look at a modern-day verbal war between Arizona’s State Government and the Federal Government.
Given the overall on-line popularity of his music videos on You Tube it enabled Stevens to reach a milestone in early September 2010. This milestone refers to the collective number of plays that all of his music videos had obtained up until that point in time. When the play totals for each officially-released music video were tallied the collective total reached ten million. “Come to the USA” obtained over four million You Tube unique views while “We the People” had obtained over three million.
Stevens returned to Branson, Missouri once again in mid September to kick off a nearly month-long engagement at The Welk Resort which ran through October 23. On the last date of his concert series at the Welk Theatre he participated in a Tea Party rally held in Branson earlier in the day. The rally was billed as ‘the Pre-Election Pink Slip Rally and Concert’ and it took place throughout most of the morning and into the afternoon. Stevens performed “We the People” and “Throw the Bums Out!” at the rally and that night wrapped up his concert series at the Welk Theatre.
On November 3, the day after the 2010 mid-term elections, Stevens uploaded a new music video on You Tube entitled “Nightmare Before Christmas“. The song has nothing to do with politics or elections but instead deals with political correctness gone amuck as Santa Claus gets arrested and is charged with crimes against a politically correct society. In the video Stevens portrays himself, Santa, the prosecutor, and the Judge. Political correctness and the mockery of liberal–progressive special interest groups is at the crux of the song.
On November 29 Stevens alerted his audience via the social network site Twitter that he would be recording ten new political comedy songs. Several days prior, on November 23, Stevens announced on his Facebook page that he’s in the process of recording a huge project of one hundred songs to be released at some point entitled The Encyclopedia of Musical Comedy Recordings. On December 2, “Bad Angel“, a song that Stevens published and his daughter, Suzi Ragsdale, co-wrote, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Country Collaboration category. The song’s trio of artists are Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Jamey Johnson. It is available on Bentley’s CD Up on The Ridge.
On January 19, 2011 via Twitter, Stevens announced that he would take part in the annual CPAC gathering in Washington, D.C. The event takes place during February 10–12. On January 24 Stevens turned 72 years old and showing no signs of slowing down he embarked on what he referred to as a radio call-in tour. The first program that Stevens called was the Charlie Brennan radio show on KMOX in St. Louis on January 28 to promote a brand new recording about airport security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Next, on February 2, Ray called in to KWEL in Texas to promote his TSA song and the latest happenings in his career.
Stevens called-in to the Jim Bohannon radio program on February 4 resulting in an interview that lasted about one hour. On February 7 he called-in to the Martha Zoller program and a radio program that aired on Minnesota’s KLTF. Other radio stations that Stevens called during this period were WICH and WDRC[disambiguation needed]. On February 8 a CD single along with an Mp3 single of The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore became commercially available. On February 9 Stevens was spotlighted on the XM and Sirius satellite radio program Cruisin’ with Cousin’ Brucie which spotlights 1960s pop songs.
Stevens performed three songs while at CPAC on February 10, 2011. The airport security/TSA song entitled The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore kicked off the performance while he followed it with “We the People” and concluded the appearance with a song entitled “Mr. President-Mr. President” which takes a comical look at how President Barack Obama is viewed by a segment of the population amidst domestic and foreign turmoil. On February 17 Stevens called-in to WSGI radio’s Steve Jarrell program, “Big Daddy-o on the Patio”. Later that same day Stevens uploaded the much-anticipated music video of “The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore”.
On February 18 Stevens called radio stations KSCJ and KDWN to promote the music video and to talk about politics in general. By February 24 “The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore” soared past the 52,000 play mark on You Tube.
On February 25 Stevens gave an interview on radio station WPTF‘s Bill Lumaye program and later the same day appeared on the Fox Business Network program, Freedom Watch, hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano. In the television interview Stevens offered his opinions of the current political climate, the TSA, and announced that his next single would deal with President Obama’s budget plan.
On February 27 the RFD-TV network reran a 1972 episode of Hee-Haw which featured Stevens as one of the guests. He performed Turn Your Radio On and Along Came Jones. On that same day, “The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore” had amassed over 70,000 unique views on You Tube in a span of 10 days. Continuing the mostly talk radio station promotion of his TSA song Stevens called the Daybreak USA program on February 28 and on March 2 he called in to Ed Morrissey‘s radio program. On March 17 one of Stevens’ previous music videos, “Come to the USA”, reached the five million mark on You Tube. On March 25, via Twitter, Stevens announced that he taped a performance for an upcoming television show hosted by country singer Ronnie McDowell titled Music City Late Night.
On April 14 Stevens decided to end his subscription-based web-site, Ray Stevens Backstage, after a two year run. The site was aimed at providing the most ardent of fans with exclusive content. Upon its cancellation it was revealed that elements of the Backstage site would be incorporated into the main Ray Stevens web-site. A classic music video from Ray uploaded on You Tube in 2009 but taped in 1992 entitled The Mississippi Squirrel Revival surpassed a million on-line views. This became the third music video from Stevens to obtain at least a million on-line views. On April 25 Stevens uploaded a new music video onto You Tube entitled “The Obama Budget Plan”. A video clip was highlighted on The O’Reilly Factor. The same day, April 25, Stevens released his latest collection of songs, The Spirit of ’76, which contains the previously mentioned “Obama Budget Plan” and “The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore”. The collection is available in Mp3 and digital download format. By May 1st, Stevens’ “Obama Budget Plan” on-line music video had generated over 95,000 unique views in less than a week’s time. Later that same night news broke on the death of Osama bin Laden and as a result Stevens’ music video from 2002 entitled “Osama Yo’ Mama”, which was uploaded on You Tube in 2009, experienced a resurgence in on-line activity. The video had received more than 990,000 unique views prior to the news of bin Laden’s death and in the aftermath it received more than 20,000 additional plays causing it to surpass a million on-line views and as a result it became his fourth music video to surpass a million plays.
On May 5 Stevens called the Lars Larson show on radio station KXL to discuss current events. On May 17 Stevens taped an appearance for a telethon entitled Somebody Cares For the Southeast following the devastating floods and tornadoes that swept through the southeastern portion of the United States. Hosted by Gary Chapman the telethon began airing in late May on select stations across the country. Stevens performed Dry Bones during his segment. On June 2 Stevens appeared on the Fox Business Network’s nightly stock market program, America’s Nightly Scoreboard hosted by David Asman. In this appearance the topic was the economy and the impact that humor has on the public at large…specifically when it comes to music videos. On June 3 Stevens appeared for a second time on the Fox Business Network‘s program Freedom Watch hosted by Andrew Napolitano. This time around Stevens was there to promote “The Obama Budget Plan” music video and talk about economics. Rounding out the trio of high profile appearances was a June 4th performance on the Fox News Channel’s Huckabee program where Stevens performed “The Obama Budget Plan” for the first time on television. This show re-aired on June 5.
Stevens’ songs have been showcased in several videos. “Gitarzan” was featured on Disc 1 of “The Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection.” Stevens videos were frequently offered via television commercials. 1992’s “Comedy Video Classics” contained 8 music videos, winning the Home Video of the Year in 1993 as well as other awards. Two videos filmed at his Branson, Missouri theatre “Ray Stevens Live!” and “More Ray Stevens Live!” were released in 1993, although the second collection was only available to fan club members at the time. In 1995 he released a movie, “Get Serious!” which contained 10 music videos inserted at appropriate times throughout the spoken dialogue. The video collection “Latest and Greatest” was released in 1996. In 2000 he released “Funniest Video Characters” including the video to his 1985 song “The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone.” In 2004 “Greatest Video Characters” was released; this was a large collection of 1990s Stevens music videos. Stevens’ video albums are released by mail order on his own label, Clyde Records.
Stevens has 11 Grammy nominations and won two Grammy Awards: one for “Everything Is Beautiful” and one for the arrangement of his country and western version of the jazz standard “Misty” (1975). Stevens was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980 as well as the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
Other awards and accomplishments
- 1969: Gold Single — “Gitarzan“
- 1970: Gold Single — “Everything Is Beautiful”
- 1970: Grammy — “Everything Is Beautiful” (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance)
- 1974: Gold Single — “The Streak”
- 1975: Grammy — “Misty” (Best Arrangement of the Year)
- 1980: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
- 1980: Georgia Music Hall of Fame
- 1984: Gold Album — “He Thinks He’s Ray Stevens”
- 1985: Gold Album — “I Have Returned”
- 1986: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1986: #1 Country Album Plaque from Billboard — “I Have Returned” (week ending March 15, 1986)
- 1987: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1987: Platinum Album — “Greatest Hits”
- 1987: Gold Album — “Greatest Hits, Volume Two”
- 1988: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1989: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1990: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1990: Gold Album — “All-Time Greatest Comic Hits”
- 1991: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1992: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1992: #1 Home Video Plaque from Billboard — “Comedy Video Classics”
- 1992: Ten Times-Platinum Home Video — “Comedy Video Classics”
- 1993: Billboard Home Video of the Year
- 1993: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1993: Platinum Home Video — “Ray Stevens Live!”
- 1994: Music City News Comedian of the Year
- 1995: Platinum Home Video — “Get Serious!”
- 1995: Country Weekly Golden Pick Award “Best Comedian”
- 2001: Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame
- 2002: Gold Single — “Osama Yo’ Mama”
- 2009: Christian Music Hall of Fame
Music City News was a monthly subscription magazine which reported on the latest happenings among country music celebrities. The magazine’s subscribers for the most part voted in the annual awards. Years later fans from all over the country could call and vote for their favorite acts in addition to the subscribers who used voting ballots. The winners of the fan voted awards were showcased nationally in an awards gala broadcast on CBS and later, The Nashville Network. Stevens won in the Comedian of the Year category nine consecutive years and performed on their awards telecasts on a consistent basis.
Stevens was the recipient of several publisher awards from BMI Music for songs he either wrote, recorded, or published. Some of the recordings that received these citations were Everything Is Beautiful, The Streak, Shriner’s Convention, Gitarzan, and several songs recorded by Sammy Kershaw and published by Stevens.
In July 2009 Stevens began uploading music videos onto You Tube for the first time. Many of the uploads were of music videos that were made in the early and mid-1990s. His user name, raystevensmusic, has since released quite a few music videos on You Tube and by the late summer of 2010 a combined total of 10,000,000 unique views were obtained.
- Roy, Don (1998). “Ray Stevens”. In The Encyclopedia of Country Music, Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 507.
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