Bill Ray, SD drummer, On Touring and Playing With Ike Turner and more 03.01.06 Buy Ike at Amazon
I've been playing with Ike since November of 2001. The first gig I did with him was in Tahoe at Harrah's. It was Thanksgiving day weekend and that Saturday night I got the worst case of food poisoning I've ever had. The next gig I did with him was a week in London at Ronnie Scott's (a very famous Jazz club) and yes, I got food poisoning again! Then in June of 2002 I went on tour in Europe with him, landed in Corsica and (you guessed it....) ANOTHER case of food poisioning!! I was beginning to think that every gig I did with Ike was gonna include a gut-wrenching experience....
Ike taught me how to be a great musician. Going into that gig, he took my "drummer ego" and threw it out the window. Over the course of a year, we would rehearse 3 times a week and it was akin to leaving your skin at the door and walking in a seething mass of nerve endings, with Ike sitting in his chair throwing salt at us when we would make a mistake. Sort of gives new meaning to the term "seasoning"......
Because of that experience I can walk into any situation and "just fit." There is no ego involved. It's just "being a good conversationalist". If you equate playing an instrument to speaking, all the decorum of holding conversation comes into play. "Don't speak over others in a loud voice." "Stay on topic." "Appreciate the interplay of conversation and interject your own humor, satire, point of view".
Ike has gotten a bad rap over the years because of the sensationalism of the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It". When I encounter people that speak ill of the man without knowing him as a person, I ask one question. "What would YOU do if someone took your darkest moment in life and made a damning portrayal of your misdeeds in the form of a movie, and that movie will be played on major network media for all of eternity?" With Ike, You really have to look beyond the public perception and really look at what he did for music. He "officially" wrote the first rock-n-Roll song (Rocket 88), He was there when Elvis was just getting started, He defined a whole style of popular music, He RAISED AWARENESS of domestic abuse, and he has touched millions in one way or another. Sure he's been no angel at times but deep down, he is the most wonderful person that I've ever met and I will always love him for the contributions to my soul and person that he bestowed upon me.
The band itself is filled with the most amazing people I have ever played music with. Most of us live in san Diego county with the exception of Ernest Lane (piano), Paul Smith (organ), and Mack Johnson (trumpet, formerly of James Brown). The San Diego contingency is a very tight unit consisting of Ryan Montana, Seth Blumberg, Leo Dombecki, and Kevin Cooper Sr. Together Ryan, Leo, Seth, Kevin and myself have a new album coming out; selections from that album can be heard at http://www.myspace.com/ryanmontana and is due to be released in May of this year (2006). Another project that the aforementioned are involved with is a band called "Vocé" and it is in the "Smooth Jazz" genre. We will be playing Humphrey's Backstage Lounge April 6th, 2006 and are currently looking to market this Vocé CD to car dealerships as a "complementary" CD with the purchase of a car. Contact me at email@example.com to get more details.
There's so many great stories but here's one more for the road: We were in France and had just done a gig in Cognac. Due to the hustle/bustle of traveling I forgot my stickbag in the van. Inside my stickbag was my wallet that had in it about $3000 USD. I thought it was lost for good, and you certainly don't go telling people "Have you seen my stickbag? It's got $3000 in it". The concert promoters located it for me and had a van containing my bag coming to meet us at the airport in Bordeaux. Before we found out about the delivery, Ike pulled me aside and said "Hey, Billy Ray, if you don't get your money back I will make sure you go home with all the money you were to have made." If that doesn't speak volumes about the person he is then I don't know what else to say.
I like Ike. Very much.