Sunday, June 12, 2011


We Remember: June 11th

1940:  Paris is declared an Open City, by the military governor, General Hering, as the French retreat sourth of the River Seine and the River Marne. The continued German advance captures Reims.

British PM Churchill travels to Braire, France. He meets with Reynaud and others. Reynaud pushes to fight on, but receives little support from others in his government.

RAF 4 Group Bombs aero-engine works at Turin and Genoa, Italy - road and rail communications in France.(Andy Etherington)

Prior to the Italian declaration of war, the British and French governments had jointly agreed that in the eventuality of Italy joining forces with Germany, the Allies would commence air operations against her. Thus a force of bombers code-named 'Haddock Force' was created. On the morning of June 11th, the Wellingtons of No. 99 Squadron arrived at Salon where they were immediately refuelled and bombed-up for a raid on Italian industrial targets that night. However the local French Air Force commander, backed up by a deputation from local authorities were aware that the Italians had already bombed Cannes and Nice that morning. They were fearful of possible Italian attacks in retaliation and objected to such a raid. Despite protests from the RAF commander that they had the approval of the French government and the personal intervention of Churchill to the French Premier Reynaud, the local authorities refused to budge. As the Wellingtons began to taxi out the airfield was blocke
d by French Army trucks and other vehicles. In order to prevent a clash the raid was called off and the Wellingtons ordered back to England to prevent sabotage by the French. (Andy Etherington)

The RAF had taken out insurance by moving 4 Group Whitleys to the Channel Islands. The aircraft took off from the small airfields at Jersey and Guernsey bound for the Fiat aero-engine works at Turin and the Ansaldo factories at Genoa as the alternative. Electrical storms of great severity hampered the force and caused twenty crews to abort. (Andy Etherington)

The first Italian air raid of the war on the island of Malta destroys one of the four Gloster Sea Gladiator fighters defending the island. The remaining three will not be named by the islanders or airmen. However 'Faith', 'Hope' and 'Charity' are the names bestowed by newsmen. These names have been repeated and become part of the lore about WWII. (Andy Etherington)

0800 saw the departure of another search, this time by nine Swordfish out to 120 miles between 181 northward to 359 degrees.  Nothing was sighted, but thick weather ahead was reported.
     At 0830, Lieutenant G. E. D. Finch-Noyes, RN section of 800 Squadron (three Skuas) went up after another snooper but it turned out to be a Coastal Command flying boat.  At 1200, Ark Royal entered the weather front and flying was suspended.
     Meanwhile, word had come in via Coastal Command photo reconnaissance efforts that the elusive German warships which had sunk Glorious (by now the Germans had announced their success to the world) were in Trondheim harbour.  In an effort to rid themselves of the enemy's remaining capital ships, Ark Royal was ordered to strike the enemy where they lay. (Mark Horan)

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa declare war on Italy.   (Jack McKillop)

The German submarine U-101 stops the U.S. passenger liner SS Washington which is enroute from Lisbon, Portugal, to Galway, Eire, with 1,020 American citizens, to pickup more U.S. citizens leaving Europe. The sub captain believes the ship is a Greek vessel and orders all passengers and crew to abandon ship prior to it being sunk. Blinker signals between the two vessels eventually confirm Washington's identity and she is allowed to proceed.  (Jack McKillop)

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill again sends a telegram to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for destroyers especially since the Royal Navy now must deal with Italian submarines. Churchill states, "To this, the only counter is destroyers. Nothing is so important as for us to have 30 or 40 old destroyers you have already had reconditioned." (Jack McKillop)

1941: Hitler starts to prepare for the period after Barbarossa, ordering his generals to plan for an assault on Gibraltar and operations in Turkey and Iran. (Andy Etherington)

Red Army units from the Transbaikal are transferred westwards but are not put on alert. (Andy Etherington)

US President Roosevelt frees a British division by agreeing to replace the British garrison in Iceland with American troops. (Andy Etherington)

German aerial combat formations operating out of newly-won bases in the Mediterranean, have successfully attacked the British fuel tank depots and port installations of Haifa, where they have caused a number of explosions and fires. (Andy Etherington)

1942:      Free French forces are holding at Bir Hacheim in North Africa.

USS Wasp, with battleship North Carolina and escorting destroyers pass through the Panama Canal on their way to the Pacific.

The USN aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), in Task Force 11, rendezvoused with Task Force 16, consisting of the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8), yesterday to transfer aircraft to replace the planes lost in the Battle of Midway. However, the weather was poor and the transfer could not take place until today. The losses suffered by the Torpedo Squadrons (VTs) were especially heavy so the Saratoga Air Group transfers TBD Devastators of VT-5 to the Enterprise Air Group, TBF Avengers of VT-8 to the Hornet Air Group and SBD Dauntlesses to both air groups.    (Jack McKillop)

The USAAF's 11th Air Force and the USN's Patrol Wing Four (PatWing-4) strike at Kiska Island in the Aleutian Islands for the first time. Five B-24 Liberators and five B-17 Flying Fortresses from Cold Bay load bombs at Umnak Island and along with PBY Catalinas, attack Kiska harbor installations and shipping targets. Low-altitude runs score near misses on two cruisers and a destroyer. AA downs a B-24; the other B-24s are pursued by four fighters back to Unmak where US fighters drive them off. (Jack McKillop)

German submarines mine areas off the U.S. east coast. U-87 mines waters off Boston, Massachusetts, and U-373 mines the waters off Delaware Bay between New Jersey and Delaware. (Jack McKillop)

The United States and the Soviet Union sign a lend-lease agreement to aid the Soviet war effort.    (Jack McKillop)

1943:     11,000 Italian troops on the island Panteleria between Tunis and Sicily surrender as the attack force approaches. There is no fighting. This island has been subjected to intensive bombing over the past month. After arrival the Allies determine that the damage from the bombing is not at severe as expected. This gives indications as to the possible effectiveness of the Pointblank Directive which was issued yesterday.
     Amplifying the above:
An attack during the night of 10/11 June on Pantelleria Island in the Mediterranean by Northwest African Air Force (NAAF) Wellingtons is followed by morning and afternoon attacks by fighters and bombers of the NAAF and USAAF Ninth Air Force, in conjunction with naval bombardment of the island. After the British 1 Division is landed unopposed, Pantelleria surrenders unconditionally.    (Jack McKillop)

The USAAF's VIII Bomber Command in England flies Mission Number 62: 252 B-17s are dispatched against the U-boat yard at Wilhelmshaven, Germany and the port area at Cuxhaven, Germany; 218 hit the targets and claim 85-20-24 Luftwaffe aircraft; eight B-17s are lost. The raid on Wilhelmshaven demonstrates the difficulty of operating beyond range of fighters escort as enemy fighters attacks prevent accurate bombing of the target.    (Jack McKillop)

In the Aleutian Islands, the USAAF's Eleventh Air Force dispatches seven B-24s, eight B-25 Mitchells, ten P-40s, four P-38 Lightnings and 2 F-5A Lightnings to fly weather, photo, reconnaissance, and attack missions to Kiska Island. Main targets are Gertrude Cove and Main Camp, South Head, North Head, runway, and offshore barges. Fighter bombing and strafing, and subsequent bomber runs over emplacements, are effectively coordinated. (Jack McKillop)

An evening air raid on Wilhelmshaven and a heavy night air raid on Duesseldorf are mounted by the Allies. (Glenn Steinburg)

HMAS Wagga, a minesweeper, picked up survivors from HMAS Walllaroo following the collision with the Liberty ship "Henry Gilbert Costin", in the Indian Ocean. Minesweeper HMS Wallaroo had sunk off Fremantle due to this
collision. (Denis Peck and Alex Gordon)

Canada:     Corvette HMCS Parry Sound is laid down Midland Ontario;     Fairmile HMCS ML 118 is commissioned;     HMC ML 118(Q118) is completed, Lt Victor "Vic" Jura WILGRESS RCNVR, CO. (Dave Shirlaw)

1944: US TF 58 with 9 fleet carriers and 6 light carriers, strike Saipan and Tinian in the Marianias. Admiral Willis Lee with TF 58.7 commands 7 battleships closes the island for a naval bombardment. Admiral Spruance in overall command flies his flag from the cruiser USS Indianapolis.
     Amplifying the above:
In preparation for the invasion of Saipan Island on 15 June, the USN's Task Force 58 dispatches 208 F6F Hellcats and eight TBM Avenger and SB2C Helldivers to fly fighter sweeps over Guam, Saipan, Pagan, Rota and Tinian Islands in the Mariana Islands at 1430 hours local. (The TBMs and SB2Cs are command aircraft to lead the fighters to the target and return to the ships.) The Japanese are completely surprised and the fighters quickly gain air superiority by destroying 100-150 Japanese aircraft on the ground at a cost of eleven F6Fs and eight pilots.
    The seven fleet carriers, eight light carriers and thirteen escort carriers participating in the invasion of the Marianas are:
TASK GROUP 50.17 (the Fueling Group)
    USS Breton (CVE-23) with Fighting Squadron Thirty Three (VF-33)
    USS Copahee (CVE-12) as an aircraft transport
TASK FORCE 52 (Marianas Attack Force Carrier Support Group)
    Task Group 52.11
       Task Unit 52.11.1
          USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) with Composite Squadron Ten (VC-10)
          USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71) with VC-5
       Task Unit 52.11.2
          USS Coral Sea (CVE-57) with VC-33
          USS Corregidor (CVE-58) with VC-41
    Task Group 52.14
       USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) with VC-68
       USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) with VC-3
       USS Midway (CVE-63) with VC-65
       USS White Plains (CVE-66) with VC-4)
TASK GROUP 53.7 (Southern Carrier Support Group)
    USS Chenango (CVE-28) with Escort Carrier Air Group Thirty Five (CVEG-35)
    USS Sangamon (CVE-26) with CVEG-37
    USS Suwanee (CVE-27) with CVEG-60
TASK FORCE 58 (Fast Carrier Task Force)
    Task Group 58.1
       USS Bataan (CVL-29) with Light Carrier Air Group Fifty (CVLG-50)
       USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) with CVLG-24
       USS Hornet (CV-12) with Carrier Air Group Two (CVG-2)
       USS Yorktown (CV-10) with CVG-1
    Task Group 58.2
       USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) with CVG-8
       USS Cabot (CVL-28) with CVLG-31
       USS Monterey (CVL-26) with CVLG-31
       USS Wasp (CV-18) with CVG-14
    Task Group 58.3
       USS Enterprise (CV-6) with CVG-10
       USS Lexington (CV-16) with CVG-16
       USS Princeton (CVL-23) with CVLG-27
       USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) with CVLG-51
    Task Group 58.4
       USS Cowpens (CVL-25) with CVLG-22
       USS Essex (CV-9) with CVG-15
       USS Langley (CVL-27) with CVLG-32    (Jack McKillop)

Over 540 other Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack targets in Rumania and Yugoslavia; the B-17s attack the Smederevo, Yugoslavia marshalling yard; the B-24s attack oil installations at Constanta and Giurpiu, Rumania (both raids having fighter escorts); the AAF claims 60 aircraft destroyed during the days missions.  (Jack McKillop)

The USAAF's Eighth Air Force in England flies two missions.
    Mission 405: Weather prevents operations against priority targets in Germany so the bombers attack targets in France; 1,055 bombers and 914 fighter sorties are flown; over 400 bombers abort or fail to bomb due to clouds and absence or malfunction of Pathfinders; three bombers and eight fighters are lost:
       1. 471 B-17s are dispatched to airfields at Beaumont-le-Roger (38 bomb), Bernay/St Martin (50 bomb) and Dinard/Pluertuit (37 bomb), and Toucquet- Paris-Plage (27 bomb), Merlimont Plage (34 bomb), Pontaubault Bridge (50 bomb) and Berck (36 bomb); 33 others hit Conches Airfield and four hit targets of opportunity; two B-17s are lost.
       2. 584 B-24s are dispatched to airfields at Cormeilles-en-Vexin (34 bomb), Beauvais/Nivelliers (27 bomb), Beaumont-sur-Oise (36 bomb) and Creil (19 bomb) and Vicomte-sur-Rance (19 bomb), Montford Bridge (18 bomb) and Blois/St Denis (41 bomb); 12 others hit Beauvais/Tille Airfield, seven hit Poix Airfield, 32 hit Montauban marshalling yard and 52 hit targets of opportunity; one B-24 is lost.
    87 P-47 Thunderbolts and 144 P-51 Mustangs provide escort for the bombers without loss.
   Other fighter missions are:
      1. 143 P-38s patrol the beachhead and claim 2-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft.
      2. 77 P-38s, 195 P-47s and 268 P-51s fly fighter-bomber missions against communications targets in northwestern France; the P-38s claim 3-2-5 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 0-0-1 on the ground; three P-38s, a P-47 and four P-51s are lost.
    Mission 406: During the night, five B-17s drop leaflets on France and the Low Countries.    (Jack McKillop)

In morning operations, 129 B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs of the USAAF's Ninth Air Force in England bomb rail and road bridges and intersections, rail lines, oil tanks, artillery and town areas, in France; bad weather prevents afternoon operations; ten fighter groups fly escort and strafe and bomb bridges, railroads, gun emplacements, rail and road traffic and marshalling yards in support of ground troops.   (Jack McKillop)

War at Sea - North Sea:     A 'Canso' patrol a/c (Canadian version of the PBY-5A) from RCAF 162 Sqn attacked & sank U-980, KptLt. Hermann DAHMS, CO, in the North Sea, in position 63.07N, 000.26E. Although approximately 35 men were sighted in the water after that attack, there were no survivors from her crew of 52 men. The next day, the a/c that sank U-980 was shot down while attacking another U-boat in the same general area. U-980 was a medium-range Type VIIC U-boat built by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg. She was commissioned on 27 May 43. U-980 was on her first patrol at the time of her loss & had not sunk or damaged any ships. KptLt. DAHMS was her only CO. Hermann DAHMS was born in 1916, in Stettin. He joined the navy in 1936. At the outbreak of the war he was seconded to the Luftwaffe until Aug 41. He transferred to the U-boat force, & after conversion training, was attached to the 2nd U-Flotilla until Feb 43. He was selected for command & completed his U-boat commander's course
  in Apr 43. A promotion to KptLt.followed in 01 Jul 43. He was assigned to commission U-980 on 27 May 43.  (Dave Shirlaw)

In Karelian Isthmus the battered Finnish 10th Division retreats to the second line of defence, the VT-line, by this evening. The greatly weakened and disorganized division is quickly withdrawn to rear to rest. On the left wing of the IV Corps, the 2nd Division is conducting a fighting withdrawal. As the troops of the embattled IV Corps withdraw, on the northern part of the front right wing of the III Corps is endangered.
     The Finnish GHQ is still guessing as to the enemy's exact strength and aims. The Armoured Division's JŠger Brigade (Col. Albert Puroma) is subordinated to the IV Corps and ordered to make a recon attack towards the advancing enemy south of Kivennapa (JŠgers were bicycle-mobile light infantry, and were considered to be a crack formation). Col. Puroma is only returning from vacation (he will arrive to take command in early afternoon), and the attack is initiated around 10 am. by the deputy commander Lt. Col. Erik Sandstršm. In the confused situation the JŠgers receive no fire support, and their advance comes to a halt after meeting the leading elements of the Soviet 30th Guard's Corps near PolviselkŠ. The JŠgers fight well against the superior enemy forces and manage to destroy a number of Soviet tanks, but in absence of any kind of fire support they suffer heavy losses and are finally forced to retreat to the VT-line, fighting delaying actions on their way back.
     Today the Soviet High Command Stavka commends the Leningrad Front for its achievements and orders the 21st and 23rd armies to continue the offensive. The aim is to capture the city of Viipuri (Vyborg) by 20 June. Elsewhere the Finnish GHQ urgently requests Germans to rescind the ban on arms exports to Finland, imposed after the Finnish peace-feelers last spring. (Mikko HŠrmeinen)

1945:     Kamikazes are again in action off Okinawa. One kamikaze crashes the large support landing craft LCS(L)(3)-122 near the conning tower. The commander, Lieutenant Richard M. McCool, Jr., is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. His citation for this award reads, "When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by two of the enemy's suicide squadron early in the evening of 11 June, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames. Although suffering from shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous firefighting measures and then proceeded to the rescue of several trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying one man to safety despite the excruciating pain of additional severe burns. Unmindful of all personal d
anger, he continued his efforts without respite until aid arrived from other ships and he was evacuated. By his staunch leadership, capable direction, and indomitable determination throughout the crisis, Lt. McCool saved the lives of many who otherwise might have perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for further combat service."
    Another kamikaze crashes alongside the armed U.S. merchant freighter SS Walter Colton.  (Jack McKillop)

Task Force 92 consisting of the light cruisers USS Richmond (CL-9) and USS Trenton (CL-11) and five destroyers begin bombarding Japanese installations on Matsuwa Island in the Kurile Islands at 0021 hours local. The seven ships fire 3,677 rounds of 5-inch (127 mm) and 6-inch (152.4 mm) rounds of ammunition. At 0232 hours local, the ships enter the Sea of Okhotsk and make an unsuccessful sweep of the area and then sail back to Matsuwa Islands and begin a second bombardment at 2347 hours local. After firing another 1,344 rounds, the bombardment ceases at 0002 hours, 12 June, and the task forces retires to the Aleutian Islands.    (Jack McKillop)

During the night of 11/12 June, 26 B-29 Superfortresses of the USAAF's XXI Bomber Command in the Mariana Islands fly Mission 201 to mine Shimonoseki Strait and Tsuruga Bay, Japan. (Jack McKillop)

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As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.

"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.

Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.

He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.

Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."

Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.

Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


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