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Ray Griff

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Biography

Canadian singer and songwriter Ray Griff overcame a difficult childhood to become one his country's more successful country songwriters. Born on April 22, 1940 in Vancouver, British Columbia, he moved to Winfield, Alberta with his mother and brother when his parents split up. Suffering from a stuttering problem, Griff found solace in his love for music, forming a band with several other local kids at the age of eight, drumming and singing. He soon taught himself to play guitar and piano and, by the time he was twelve, Griff was writing songs. Although he earned an invitation to join the Canadian Olympic team as a long jumper, he put aside athletic endeavors to remain focused on music fronting his own band, The Blue Echos, while in high school. The group played often around Calgary (where Griff's family had relocated) and one performance led to Griff touring Western Canada as an opener for Johnny Horton at the age of sixteen. During the our, Griff played a song for Horton which he had written specifically for the singer. Horton ended up cutting the song, "Mister Moonlight, and Griff began making trips to Nashville in 1961 to pitch songs. His next break came when singer Jim Reeves took note of Griff's "Where Do We Go From Here" and, after recording the song, encouraged Griff to relocate to Nashville. However, shortly after Griff arrived, Reeves was killed in an accident and Griff was forced to take on a succession of odd jobs to support himself while he attempted to get his fledgling career off the ground. He briefly signed a record contract but the deal fell through. An opportunity to play a song for legendary producer Owen Bradley led to a publishing deal instead and for the next two decades Griff would make a name as a successful songwriter with his songs recorded by numerous country notables including Ray Price, Mel Tillis, Dolly Parton, and George Jones. Griff continued to perform during this time, releasing a handful of his own albums such as Songs For Everyone and The Last Of The Winfield Amateurs, as well as having a television show in Canada. In 1989, he was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and two years later saw him issue See Ya, Love Ya, Bye, his first album in fifteen years. ~ Tom Demalon
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