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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Tributes pour in for Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Charles died in his Beverly Hills home of liver disease
Tributes have been paid to musician Ray Charles, who has died at the age of 73.

Soul legend Stevie Wonder called Charles an "incredible musician, singer, writer and a great man" whose life should be celebrated.

Michael Jackson said he was sad to hear of the death of his friend, calling him an "American treasure".

He said: "His music is timeless, his contribution to the music industry unequalled, unparalleled." Charles died of acute liver disease on Thursday.

Jackson added: "He paved the way for so many of us, and I will forever remember him in my heart."

Don McLean
You know what I love about people like him is that they gave every single ounce of energy to us back
Don McLean
And Stevie Wonder also said: "He was just incredible because he was a great musician, he was a genius in the true meaning of the word genius. He was able to bring various genres of music together."

Former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones told BBC News Online Charles was a big influence on the band in its formative days.

Jones - who sang 1960s hits such as Pretty Flamingo and Do Wah Diddy Diddy - said: "In common with all the true greats, he committed his whole personality into the performance of the song.

"He wrote some fantastic things, but his brilliance also comes through in his interpretation of pop songs and standards."

American Pie singer Don McLean praised the strength of character Charles displayed during his illness.

"You know what I love about people like him is that they gave every single ounce of energy to us back," he said.

"They never said 'I don't feel well' or 'I can't make the plane' or 'you know, I don't want to do this' or 'I don't want to do that'.

It had a lot to do with me choosing this profession and I spent a lifetime emulating Ray Charles
Michael McDonald
Doobie Brothers
"It's like Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald, like Peggy Lee, like all those people, even like Mick Jagger who's out there all the time - giving, giving, giving - that's what it's all about." Neil Sedaka described Charles as "my idol".

"I bought all of the R&B records and songs," he said. "I am shaken by it... he was a great spokesperson not only for black America but for all of America."

Former Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald reminisced about his memories of listening to Charles' music.

"For me personally, my earliest, some of my fondest memories are before I could even see over the dashboard of my father's Ford," McDonald said.

"He and I would crank the radio every time Ray Charles came on - Born to Lose and I Can't Stop Loving You and all of Ray's stuff - it seemed that the whole world would fill up with Ray Charles in that old Ford and it was for me such an incredible inspiration.

You are going to hear his records play when we are all old and grey
Hal David
Bacharach and David
"It had a lot to do with me choosing this profession and I spent a lifetime emulating Ray Charles, just trying to get anywhere close to that feeling I got when I listened to his music as a kid."

Lyricist Hal David, of Bacharach and David, called Charles one of the "great interpreters", saying "you are going to hear his records play when we are all old and grey".

Motown singer and composer Barrett Strong added: "He was great and very innovative.

"I used to try to sing like him when I was a kid coming up. As a matter of fact, the first song that I recorded as an artist, Money, That's What I Want, that was my rendition of singing like Ray Charles."

'Shocking'

Comedian and actor Cedric the Entertainer spoke of seeing Charles only weeks before his death at an awards ceremony.

"It was shocking news. We were just with Ray at the Image Awards a couple of months ago and he was sickly then. It's sad to know that he has passed," he said.

Charles was "one of the great entertainers and songwriters of our time, just a really spirited individual", he said.

"It is just really a loss to have him pass on but he definitely lived a full life and left us a lot to remember him by."


WATCH AND LISTEN
David Ritz, biographer
"He was a tremendously driven man"



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