A Charmed Life, and an immensely talented musician- Brian Ray

photo credit ©Glen Wexler Brian Ray has a gig that every other musician on the planet can only dream of. He also has a career  that a screenwriter would be afraid to create for fear of being too utterly unbelievable….

Brian Ray is the rhythm guitarist and bass player for Paul McCartney… That Paul McCartney.

When Paul sits down at the piano, Brian has the job of playing the bass lines that changed the way people play bass. Brian has had a career filled with gigs like this, playing with legends, writing hit songs for people like Smokey Robinson and more…

With Sir Paul visiting the Queen City on July 28, I took the opportunity to ask Mr. Ray a few questions…

photo credit © Glen Wexler

ch: Thanks Brian for taking the time to give me a call…This leaves out  quite a few- but a few highlights…Your first band backs Bobby Pickett of  “monster mash” fame,  14 years with Etta James, writing hits for Smokey Robinson and playing rhythm guitar and bass with Sir Paul McCartney on tours, in the studio and at the Super Bowl, arguably the biggest show out there. Do you ever stop and pinch yourself?

Brian: I pinch myself regularly.(laughing) Every once in a while I say to Abe (Abe Laboriel Jr., McCartney drummer) “Look where we are! We are playing in the White House for the president, who is sitting 4 feet away! How do you top this… I am indeed very fortunate and very grateful for everything, but I have also worked very hard to get to where I am.

ch: You have played two Superbowls, how do you top that!

Brian: Yeah (laughing) Really, we continue to play these iconic shows like the Super Bowl, the White House, the Isle of Wight that we just played. Again I am just so grateful to Paul for everything he has done for me, and to Etta James for the same.

ch: In addition to playing with Paul McCartney, I believe you have recorded with Ringo Starr as well, you might be one of the few people on the planet who has recorded with both living Beatles…

Brian: You know, I did, I always forget to mention that. (laughing) I met Ringo in 1977, and in 1981 or 1982, I recorded “She’s About a Mover” with him.

ch: You also recently played a halftime show in tribute to Les Paul, how did that come about?

Brian: I was recording my new solo record, and had a crazy idea to write a break into the song, “I Found You” that was like a marching band, but with guitars in place of the trombone parts, guitars in place of the trumpet parts and so on. After a bit, I got up to around 40 tracks of these parts and I thought it turned out great. Not long after that I was introduced to Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins and I mentioned how cool it would be to have that march out at a halftime show in place of a marching band.  On the spot, he offered to let me do it. As the planning progressed we decided to do more familiar songs, and I ended up doing it with Rick Nielsen and Orianthi, who was lined up to be Michael Jackson’s guitarist before he passed away. You can watch the whole tribute on youtube.

ch: We have  mentioned a few of the numerous people you have played or written with. Are there any artists that you would like to work with, that you have not?

Brian: Good question. I have really been getting into the Retro Soul coming out of Northern England and from people like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Growing up, I listened to a pirate radio station out of Mexico called XURB and a dj named Wolfman Jack. The songs he played were the rythm and blues that are the bedrock for all rock and roll. Without it, there would be no rock and roll…So these new bands really interest me, and I would love to write with someone like Sharon Jones or James Hunter. I would also like to write with Robert Plant or one of the younger bands like MGMT.

ch: Your new single, “I Found You,” is currently streaming  on your website. Great summer song….it recalls the days of my youth, when summer meant great new songs on the radio, songs that would hook you immediately, those songs that when you hear them, they immediately carry you back to that time…

Brian: Thanks for saying that. I know what you mean,  One of those songs for me was the Loving Spoonfuls’ “Summer in the City” . Really a great song.

ch: What is the official release date for the new album? -Are there any plans to tour in support of your solo release after the McCartney Tour?

Brian: My  new single, “I Found You”  and “Happy Ending” will be released digitally with Sony/ICON , July 6 on iTunes, with the  full length being released a month later on August 3. The physical release  on Whooray/ICON will be around the same time, with a deluxe edition being released on my website, www.brianray.com.  I would love to tour, and have a new manager, Jamie Talbot, Sanctuary Mgmt.,  so we are looking to see about something in September or October.

ch: Thanks again for taking the time out of your day to talk with me, I look forward to your new cd, and seeing you in Charlotte on July 28 with Paul McCartney.

Brian: Thanks Clay,


About stratoclay
father, husband, musician, employee, writer... in that order

One Response to A Charmed Life, and an immensely talented musician- Brian Ray

  1. Nancy Jo Laliberte Rebhan says:

    Fascinating Interview – Makes me want to hear/see him play!!!

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