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Country Music Hall Of Famer Ray Price dies at 87

Listen to Ray Price on iHeartRadio

Country music's "Cherokee Cowboy" has died.  Ray Price's family confirmed Monday that the singer had passed away - roughly 24 hours after his death had been mistakenly announced. 

Price had been battling pancreatic cancer.  His death comes just a few weeks before his birthday.  Ray would have turned 88 on January 12th. 

The Country Music Hall of Famer started his lengthy and successful career in the late 1940s after leaving the U.S. Marine Corps.  He began singing on the radio in his home state of Texas, including a stint on the Dallas-based show "Big D Jamboree." 

Price moved to Nashville, in 1951.  He became friends with Hank Williams, and helped him secure membership into the Grand Ole Opry - an honor that eluded Price.  Ray became the go-to performer whenever Williams missed a show, and he even gained Williams' backing band, the Drifting Cowboys, after Hank died. 

By the mid-'50s Price began to make his own mark.  He scored his first chart-topper in 1956 with "Crazy Arms," which features the honky tonk shuffle known as the "Ray Price beat."  Ray remained a top ten fixture on the country charts for the next 20 years with such classics as "City Lights," "Heartaches By The Numbers," "The Same Old Me," and "For The Good Times" - which earned him his first Grammy Award. 

By the 1980s his chart success began to fade - his last Billboard top ten was 1981's "Diamonds in the Stars."  But Price continued his recording career into the 21st century, making country and gospel albums.  His last studio project was "Last of the Breed," a collaborative effort with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. 

In addition to Grammys, Price has earned Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards.  He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. 

Photo Credit Getty Images

 

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