True country legend chooses to celebrate his birthday in Houston
On my 85th birthday, I will consider it a victory if I am able to wheel myself over to the cake table with the help of less than four people, blow out a couple of candles without shooting my dentures across the icing and chew the sugary confection in a manner that does not turn the rest of the parties' collective stomach.
(Got a visual of that? Mark your calendars for September about a a half a century from now if you would like to catch a glimpse of that blessed event in person.)
Texas singing legend Ray Price, The Cherokee Cowboy and the pride of his hometown of Perryville, has plans that are a little more ambitious than that to celebrate his 85th. Beginning at the Stafford Centre Wednesday night — the night of his actual birthday — Price begins yet another tour that is already over a dozen dates long and stretches into spring.
The man is proof that, while rock 'n' roll might age a body quickly, pristine old-school country and western swing is elixir from the Fountain of Youth.
Don't believe it?
A listen to Price's voice, which is nearly as rich, low and full as it was when he began singing country alongside guys like Johnny Bush and Hank Williams over 60 years ago, is all the proof you need.
After singing (and eventually leading) Williams' group, The Drifting Cowboys, Price began his own Texas Country outfit in 1953 known as the Cherokee Cowboys. A few of the guys in that band will be familiar to even the most casual Texas music fan: Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Roger Miller and Bush. It was this all-star collaboration that came up with timeless Price-sung early hits like, "Night Life" and "Invitation to the Blues."
Eventually Price would go it alone, both as a honky-tonker and Nashville balladeer where his ranging baritone could be exploited on his version of "Danny Boy" and former No. 1 country hits "For the Good Times" and "The Same Old Me."
Through the years Price has won Grammy Awards (most recently in 2008 for the song "Lost Highway" from his collaboration album with Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard, Last of The Breed) and album of the year honors from both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music. In 1986, he was officially inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame where his legacy will live forever.
That is, of course, unless Price actually just decides to keep on living.
Don't put it past him. At age 85 he's still touring like a man half his age. Now get on out to Stafford and show this octogenarian showman a good time on his birthday.
Ray Price, 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Stafford Centre