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Song of the Day for June 10: I Can't Stop Loving You with Ray Charles

Ray Charles
FILE - In this April 11, 2003 file photo, Ray Charles sings "America The Beautiful" in the rain at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, file)

Ray Charles, who lost his sight as a child, experienced more in his 73 years than most men with perfect vision. Charles died of cancer June 10, 2004.

He left a legacy that spanned six decades. He was a crossover success in every genre of music: jazz, R&B, country and rock. He influenced a generation of artists.

As a child, Charles suffered tragedy after tragedy. His brother drowned in his mom’s laundry tub. He started going blind when he was four and was completely blind by age seven. His mom sent him to a school for the blind where he stayed until she died seven years later. He never returned to school.

At 16, Ray started doing drugs and became addicted to heroin. He wouldn’t kick the habit until 1964.

Charles loved women as much as he had loved heroin. He said, "Cigarettes and smack [heroin] are the two truly addictive habits I've known. You might add women. My obsession centers on women—did then [when young] and does now. I can't leave them alone."

He married twice but had 12 children by 10 women.

Not long before his death, he called his children together (10 attended), to tell them that each would receive a $500,000 trust. The rest of his estate would go to his charity. The children later sued the trust, seeking the rights to their father’s songs. The trust won.

The song of the day, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” is an example of how Charles could turn a country song into a crossover hit. Don Gibson wrote it in 1957. His version rose to 81 on the Billboard 100 chart. Charles rearranged and recorded it in 1962. It reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts.

Fridays are when we enjoy a new weekly series that's part history, part trivia, and ALL music. The series features selections from former News-Press editor Sheldon Zoldan's 'Song of the Day."  The initiative began as a daily lockdown project on Facebook at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.