We already brought you part one of our list of 15 things you probably did not know about Ray Charles, and now we’re back with part two! Check out eight more fascinating facts about the singer and musician that you definitely (probably) did not know below. You might be surprised by what you find out!
Number Eight: He Was Extremely Poor. Charles moved to Orlando when he was 16 years old because he thought he could exploit his musical talents there more easily. However, he was so poor that he sometimes had to go without food for days at a time.
Number Seven: He Recorded His First National Hit in 1949. Charles was playing as part of a trio when they recorded “Confession Blues.” The song would go on to become his first national hit, and it hit number two on the Billboard R&B chart.
Number Six: His First Contract Was $2,500. Charles signed with Atlantic Records in June of 1952. They were able to purchase his contract for just $2,500, and his first recording session took place in September of 1952.
Number Five: He Died of Liver Disease. Charles died at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by the people he cared about. He was 73 and suffering from liver disease, among other ailments.
Number Four: He Had 12 Children With Nine Different Women. Though Charles was only married twice, he has children – 12 of them – with nine different women.
Number Three: He Thought That Drugs Would Help Him Tap Into His Creativity. Charles struggled with drug addiction, and he initially began experimenting with them because they would improve his creative prowess. He first started using marijuana, and he moved onto heroin, which he struggled with for 16 years.
Number Two: He Wrote Songs About His Drug Use. Charles’ songs titled “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” were inspired by his drug use. He wrote these songs after he was arrested for possession of heroin and marijuana.
Number One: He Liked to Play Chess. Charles enjoyed chess so much, in fact, that he had a special board made for him that featured raised squares and holes where he could put the pieces.