Country star Ray Price dies at 87 - WSMV Channel 4

Country star Ray Price dies at 87

Updated:
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV-AP) -

Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price died on Monday afternoon, according to a family friend. He was 87 years old.

Bill Mack posted on Facebook that Price's wife, Janie Price, called him and reported that he had died at 4:43 p.m. CT.

Ray Price died from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was discharged from a Texas hospital on Thursday into hospice care so he could die at home.

Ray Price had impacted country music since the mid-1950s, including hit songs City Lights, Crazy Arms and My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You. He received two Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

Price came to Nashville after serving in World War II as a Marine. He made friends quickly, like country rebel Hank Williams Sr.

When Williams died, Price inherited his band.

This Country Music Hall of Famer was a country Sinatra. The Ray Price voice was smooth as glass while his style set him apart.

Perhaps best known for his version of the Kris Kristofferson song For the Good Times, a pop hit in 1970, the velvet-voiced Price was a giant among traditional country performers in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, as likely to defy a trend as he was to defend one. He helped invent the genre's honky-tonk sound early in his career, then took it in a more polished direction.

He reached the Billboard Hot 100 eight times from 1958 to 1973 and had seven No. 1 hits and more than 100 titles on the Billboard country chart from 1952 to 1989. For the Good Times was his biggest crossover hit, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard pop music singles chart. His other country hits included Crazy Arms, Release Me, The Same Old Me, Heartaches by the Number, City Lights and Too Young to Die.

Price crooned as rock 'n' roll burned, a professional career that stretched from the early 1950s to present day.

Even in his 80s, his voice remained strong as his body began to fail.

Fighting pancreatic cancer aggressively for the last 25 months, Price would take the cancer treatments and get back to work. The cancer had recently spread to his liver, intestines and lungs, according to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, TX.

Price came to Nashville to work and live here for a time early on, but he loved Texas. His home in Mount Pleasant was his refuge.

He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

By 1952 Price was a regular member of the Grand Ole Opry.

The singer had one of country music's great bands, the Cherokee Cowboys, early in his career. His lineup included at times Nelson, Miller and Johnny Paycheck.

His 1956 version of Crazy Arms became a landmark song for both Price and country music. His first No. 1 country hit, the song rode a propulsive beat into the pop top 100 as well. Using a drummer and bassist to create a country shuffle rhythm, he eventually established a sound that would become a trademark.

Price was born near Perryville, TX, in 1926 and was raised in Dallas. He joined the Marines for World War II and then studied to be a veterinarian at North Texas Agricultural College before he decided on music as a career.

Price has a new CD coming out and several tribute shows are already being planned to celebrate his career, including one in Nashville on Feb. 12.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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