Country music legend Ray Price (aka “The Cherokee Cowboy”) died almost 28 years to the day from when he performed with The Augusta Symphony.
His performance commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust Co. was on Dec. 18, 1985, in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center (now James Brown Arena).
Price died on Monday, Dec. 16, at age 87 at his home near Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Those who crossed his path remember him as a true gentleman, great performer and soft-speaking overall nice guy.
He came to Augusta several times over the years of his lengthy career, including appearances in Bell Auditorium. Many Augusta fans also saw him at the Newberry (S.C.) Opera House.
Price died of cancer, and that’s what he told me caused him to move back to his native Texas in 1968 after years of living in Nashville, Tenn.
“My dad had cancer, and that’s why I came home,” he said in an interview a few days before his symphony appearance. “I bought my place (in Mount Pleasant) in 1970, and I got to be with my dad for almost five years after that.
“I almost quit the (music) business to be with him as much as I could.”
Price’s huge singles included For The Good Times, Night Life, I Won’t Mention It Again, Heartaches By The Number and his signature number, Crazy Arms.
He was Hank Williams’ roommate for six months in a house on Natchez Trace off Hillsboro Road, and he launched Georgia-native Bill Anderson’s career into high gear when he recorded Anderson’s composition City Lights.
During our conversation, Price admitted to being a romantic husband to his wife, Janie, and told me each year he gave her red roses plus two yellow roses for the two years they dated before marriage.
“Marriage is a lifetime partnership if you love one another,” he told me. “Love is where it’s at. I’m not speaking of sexual love. I’m talking about where you love each other and want to do the best for each other and are just happy you found each other.”