“Cherokee Cowboy” Ray Price Has Passed Away

ray-priceNOTE: This story is developing, and has been updated.

“I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years and I hope I haven’t let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll see you again one day.” — Ray Price

Country music legend Ray Price has passed away at his ranch in Mount Pleasant, TX after a prolonged battle with pancreatic Cancer and side effects from Cancer treatment. Ray was 87-years-old, and the above message was the final words he left to his fans.

Earlier reports by Ray’s son and local news station KETK that Ray Price had passed away yesterday apparently were presumptive, but the reports today come directly from family friend Bill Mack.

Ray returned to his ranch in Mount Pleasant on December 12th to receive hospice care after an extended stay at the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, TX. Janie Price says Ray chose to spend his final days on his “beloved ranch surrounded by the comfort of his home, family and friends.”

Ray Price was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November of 2012 and began receiving radiation treatment. By February of 2013, the cancer was in remission and Ray was back performing, but the Cancer came back, and complications from the treatment had kept Ray in and out of the hospital for the majority of the year. Earlier this year, Ray was given the choice to have surgery that would place him permanently in a nursing home, and elected to forgo the procedure.

In May, Ray was admitted to the hospital for Post Radiation Syndrome, giving the country music singer extreme diarrhea and resulting in the loss of too many fluids. Ray was later discharged, but was then re-admitted to the hospital for a severe bacterial infection in his blood line, known as sepsis, in October.

Ray’s widow posted on December 12th,

With God’s blessing he has not had extreme pain. But it’s with great sadness that I announce to you today that my beloved husband has entered the final stages of his cancer that he has battled for 25 months. Anyone who knows Ray is aware that he has strong convictions and great faith in God. It’s his decision to leave the hospital and return home to spend his final days on his beloved ranch surrounded by the comfort of his home, family and friends.

Ray Price was born in Perryville, TX and served in the United States Marine Corps for 3 years before joining the “Big D Jamboree” show in Dallas in 1949. He then went on to manage Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboy band after the untimely death of Hank in 1952. In 1953, Ray Price formed his own band, the Cherokee Cowboys, which had many notable members over the years, including Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck , Johnny Bush, and steel guitar player Buddy Emmons amongst others.

Ray scored his first #1 hit in 1956 with the song “Crazy Arms” written by steel guitar player Ralph Mooney, and later became seminal to the 1960’s “Nashville Sound,” scoring a total of eight #1’s, including “My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You,” “City Lights,” “The Same Old Me,” “For The Good Times” in 1970 written by Kris Kristofferson, and “I Won’t Mention It Again” in 1971. One of his most well-known songs is “Heartaches By The Number” released in 1959.

He released over 50 albums over his career and became a legend of country music, being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. Ray won two Grammys, two ACM Awards, and a CMA Award for Album of the Year from 1971. Ray continued to perform all the way up to this year, and released his last album Last of the Breed with good friends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in 2007.