The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays — Memories of my 16th birthday on my mom’s 84th birthday

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thomas D . Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, UtahToday would have been my mother’s 84th birthday. She died in February 2012. She put me in a troubled youth/adoption home (Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah; picture at right) in 1965, which is how my wise old grandmother (my dad’s mom) came to adopt me. I was one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents, and without my mother’s action, I’m pretty sure I would be dead at the hands of a Utah police officer or spending life in prison. I was that bad. So I thank my mother for that. I also had only seen my mother twice since 1965, once in 1968 and once in 1998, but in her elderly years she did start sending me birthday and Christmas cards.

The only other thing I thank my mother for is my interest in music. At one time she was a piano and organ accompanist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She taught me piano beginning at age two, and when I enrolled in first grade, she required me to take up another instrument; I chose violin.

Piano and violinAfter my wise old grandmother adopted me and moved me from Brigham City, Utah, to Kingsville, Texas (where I had been born), I continued playing the violin but had to give up the piano. We were too poor to afford a piano; violins were much less expensive.

For Christmas in 1970, my wise old grandmother gave me a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Actually, I think Santa Claus left it for me, but Santa Claus is a fairy tale just like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, God…. all fairy tales. The tape recorder sparked my interest in collecting music. By March 1971, I had recorded from radio all the Top 40 hits. My collecting was in full swing.

I mention March 1971 because that was my sixteenth birthday. While most of my friends were getting cars or driver’s licenses for their sixteenth birthdays, I got a stereo record player and three records: “Ram” by Paul & Linda McCartney, “Black Sabbath Vol. IV” by Black Sabbath, and “The Best of The Beach Boys, Vol. I” by The Beach Boys.

Since I listen to my music collection in chronological order, I listened to those three albums (and several dozen others!) this past weekend. Here is a song from each album:

“Dear Boy” by Paul & Linda McCartney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Changes” by Black Sabbath
(not a typical heavy metal song!)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Fun, Fun, Fun” by The Beach Boys

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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14 thoughts on “Music on Mondays — Memories of my 16th birthday on my mom’s 84th birthday

  1. The Presents of Presence

    I imagine it must have been difficult for you, but I am sure that your Mom and your wise Grandma are so proud of the man you have become. I am glad you are still here to share your story with us and your life with those you love. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

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  2. El Guapo

    Sometimes I wish my parents had been more musically inclined, though they did introduce me to Harry Belafont, victor Borge, Berlioz and a lot of classical music.

    Happy post-humous birthday, Mrs Ray, and thank you for letting your son go someplace he could thrive..

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  3. lindalitebeing

    glad your grandmom caught you, sad story but you are here with us still. I grew up in a home filled with music. My mom plays piano, as did her father and others in her line, they learned by ear. We have ( my mom still has) an inexpensive upright?piano. I took listens but it did not really take. My mom and dad also loved to sing – I also lack that talent but still love to sing. My parents loved big band Sinatra and some jazz. I am grateful my parents passed on my love of music and culture in general. My first ” rock ” concert was in 1975 The Beach Boys , good times 🙂

    glad to know more about you as well!

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  4. Bob Mills

    Loved this story. I spent a lot of my time working with young people who have been cared for by grandmothers similar to your own. She sounds like a very inspirational woman. Look at all you have achieved despite your problems. A musician and all round nice guy! Take care my friend. The music was lovely and took me back

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  5. btg5885

    The gift of music is a special one. Happy BD to your mom’s memory. By the way, the Black Sabbath album through me sandwiched between Sir Paul and the Beach Boys, until I saw your explanation. Take care. By the way, thanks for the trip to the zoo yesterday. BTG

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  6. Sonel

    I am very glad your grandmother adopted you and by the sound of it, just what you needed. Love the music videos. Great post and share Russel. Thank you. 😀

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