More on Ray Stevens, an ‘old-line? comedian

My column on Ray Stevens Jan. 18 prompted Robert Q. Orick to write the following.
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Dear Jim,
Thank you for your thoughtful & hilarious article about Ray Stevens. My brother and I have been big fans of him for years. We caught his stage show last September at his Ray Stevens Theatre.
It was a great show, but unfortunately, he announced it could be his last performance at the theatre. A diabetic for over a decade, he said he was getting tired of doing over 45 years after performing, and at age 67 wanted to retire, mend his diabetes and look after his family.
He has been performing since he was 15 and first started with a 15-minute radio show in Clarksdale GA. At 17 he went to Atlanta and cut his first records for Capitol, Prep and NRC Records.
He struggled as a regional artist until 1961 when his tribute record to Sgt. Preston of the Mounted Patrol, a 1940s radio show, sold well. However, sales were limited because the original Sgt. sued him.
His next recording, on Mercury Records of Chicago, was ‘Jeremiah Peabody’s Polyunsaturated Pleasant-tasting Fast-Action Green & Purple Pills (say that 5 times fast), about lonely medicine men and snake oil salesmen at the turn of the 20th century. Next came ‘Ahab the Arab?, which no doubt would upset those Muslim terrorists, but still is funny after 44 years.
These were his first records to make Billboard, Cash Box and Record World Top 40 charts. These were the three competing trade papers for record sales & airplay in those days. Ray had about 12 records in Billboard’s Top 40 from 1962-1978, the last one being ‘In the Mood,? his goofy chicken-sound instrumental.
We saw him at his theatre in Branson, Mo. He’s going to retire in May. My brother and I were fortunate to find a long out-of-print LP from 1980 ‘Shriner’s Convention,? on RCA Victor.
Thanks to my quick-thinking mother we managed to get his autograph that evening. Thank goodness we still have comedians like him in today’s foulmouthed world of obscene comedians. It’s a shame we have the obnoxious creatures who insult every white & straight person, but that’s what in fashion on today’s cynical scene.
Ray Stevens is an old-line comedian, still trying to hold onto what he can get with his so-called ‘Equal Opportunity, Politically-incorrect Humor.? Everyone’s been made fun of in his songs from hapless televangelists to tyrannical dictators (‘Osama Yo Mama?), to self-righteous Vikings, moronic hillbillies and Barry Manilow (‘I need your help, Barry Manilow?).
Next time you hear complaints about misogynistic straight males, or a self-righteous comedian strut about with sanctimonious statements (let’s face it racism is racism and prejudices are prejudices), think about Ray Stevens and his musical statements.
You’ll think all in the world is fair about love and war. We’re all in this together, whether you’re George Bush, or Osama, or Robertson, Falwell, Bakker and Dobson.
Yours Truly, Robert Q. Orick.
P.S. I almost forgot that’s Ray’s real name is Earl Raymond Ragsdale and he was born in Clarksdale, GA in 1939. Just thought you’d like to know such details.
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Back to Jottings. I’ve been a Ray Stevens fan for many years and have one of his tapes in my car at all times. Besides ‘Where do my socks go when I put ’em in the dryer??, which prompted Robert’s letter, there’s ‘Bwana and the Jungle Girl,? ‘Cletus McHicks and his band from the sticks,? ‘Jack Daniels, you lied to me,? and the legitimate, ‘Help me make it through the night.?
His tapes have a good ratio: one serious song and nine humorous.

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