Spotlight on Ray Charles

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

You wouldn't necessarily picture Ray Charles, blues pianist and singer, engrossed in a game of chess. But a new book of previously unseen photographs taken by his manager and friend Joe Adams between the 1960s and the 1980s offers intriguing insights into the man.

Charles was blind from the age of seven, but he became a very good chess player after picking it up aged 35 while in drug rehab. In the late 1960s he began a ritual of Sunday sessions, often playing from morning to midnight. Here, he's pictured backstage preparing for shows, deep in concentration at the chessboard.

Also among the images are his performance with Aretha Franklin on The Midnight Special. Fellow musicians Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel and Tom Waits have contributed reminiscences to the volume.

The book marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Charles's first single, "Confession Blues", on Swingtime Records in April 1949. About 2,000 photographs of the star were discovered in 2006 when the Ray Charles Entertainment offices in Los Angeles were being refurbished – a lucky find for fans.

'Ray Charles – Yes Indeed! Photo-graphs by Joe Adams', a limited-edition, signed, hand-crafted book and DVD box set by Joe Adams, is available from Genesis Publications (01483 540 970;