Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Ray Pressley was born in Monroe County, Tennessee, but it appears his family moved to Georgia when he was very young as a fan club journal notes he got all his education in Georgia.
After he graduated from high school, he took a job for a short while with a construction company. Then, he decided to join the U. S. Air Force. When he entered the military service, he took along his trusty guitar, something he had been playing since he was 14 years old.
After he was discharged from his military service, he started to think of a country music career.
One of his first steps was to take part in a four week amateur contest that would culminate in naming a winner in the fifth week. Ray won the first week and again in the fifth - he sang "Many Tears Ago". That got him a first prize of $50.00 and a chance to be a part of Tommy Trent's band. He stayed with Tommy about a year.
But he was married and had a fmaily and was of the mind set that the music business was meant for single people and thus, not for him.
About ten years went by, but Ray never really seemed to lose the urge to sing in front of an audience and would often find a chance to do so. One night he and his wife attended the Dixie Jubilee in Marietta, Georgia. When intermission came, Ray went backstage. Somewhere he found a guitar and started a bit of picking. Then one of the regulars happened to hear him and asked if he could sing. It was probably a spur of the moment, right place, right time audition. Ray was hired to be on the Dixie Jubilee.
It wasn't too long before Ray moved on to the Georgia Jubilee which aired over WSB in Atlanta. Jim Reeves came to town one week and Ray got an opportunity to do some songs for Jim. He took one Ray's compositions, "A World That's Real", for his publishing company. In 1959, Cowboy Copas recorded the tune.
That gave him a bit more confidence that he could find more work in country music. He went to Nashville and met Buddy Killen. He advised Ray to record a record. After he did the recording session, he sent his tunes to Pappy Dailey in Houston, Texas. This led to a contract with the "D" record label. His first release on "D" was "Rose Colored Glasses" b/w "Ghost Of A Broken Heart". But unfortunately the release didn't exactly catch on. But Gabe Tucker was of the opinion that Ray had the talent, so two more records were released. One, "Let's Try Again" reached the No. 40 position in Cashbox.
Ray kept making contacts in Music City. Ralph Emery introduced Ray to Don Pierce of Starday records. They liked what they heard and signed him to their new "Nashville" label. His first release was "You're A Part Of Me" b/w "Your New Love". Billboard noted in 1961 that Ray was in "...the traditional country groove". The flip side was said to "...sung for good effects against traditional accompaniment."
One of the highlights of Ray's career happend on June 17, 1961 - he appeared on the legendardy WSM Grand Ole Opry. After his appearance, he was on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree show as well.
The fan club journal article mentioned his wife was Mildred and they had three children at the time, Sheryl Anne, Wayne Eugene, and Karen Dale. His fan club was headed by Helen White of Atlanta, Georgia at one time.
Credits & Sources