Personalities | Robert Cray | Eighties | Rock

(Guitar, vocals, b. 1953)

By the 1970s the blues was a debased currency amongst Afro-Americans. Robert Cray was the first major black artist to rehabilitate the genre. Born in Columbus, Georgia, Cray paid a lot of dues before eventually releasing Who’s Been Talkin’ in 1980. Several hundred gigs down the road, Bad Influence emerged in late 1983 (1984 in the UK) with Eric Clapton sitting in (Cray still works with ‘Slowhand’).

Showdown (1985), an album shared with two of Cray’s heroes, Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland, displayed the tradition Robert was coming from. Where he was going to was pointed out on his soul-tinged breakthrough, Strong Persuader in 1986. This married Cray’s full-toned, economic guitar style and his beautiful, gospelly voice, reaching No. 13 in the US. Cray continues to renew the blues with his strong songwriting skills and interesting arrangements, on the likes of Sweet Potato Pie (1997) and Shoulda Been Home (2001).

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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