The Little White Cloud That Cried (1951)

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Johnnie Ray (born John Alvin Ray January 10, 1927 in Dallas, Oregon, died of liver failure February 24, 1990 in Los Angeles, California.)

Johnnie Ray was a popular 1950s singer who was a major precursor of what would become rock and roll. The previous trend had been crooner-style vocalists like Perry Como and Bing Crosby, while Ray's style was louder, more passionate and soulful.

Ray was also perhaps the first white singer/songwriter superstar. At that time, the singers sang and the songwriters wrote. However, Johnnie was also an excellent blues and jazz piano player who wrote many songs, including "The Little White Cloud That Cried".

Ray was partially deaf since the age of twelve (from a childhood accident involving a blanket toss) and had worn a hearing aid since he was fourteen, but his deafness did not hinder him from becoming a major hit maker.

Bob Dylan once said that Johnnie Ray was "the first singer whose voice and style I totally fell in love with." He was also named-checked in the 1982 Dexy's Midnight Runners' hit "Come On Eileen": Poor old Johnnie Ray sounded sad upon the radio . . . he moved a million hearts in mono.

Contrary to legend, Johnnie Ray was not part Blackfoot Indian. Press agents circulated a story that Johnnie's childhood Indian name was "Little White Cloud" and was asked in an interview at the height of his popularity what Indian blood he had. Johnnie looked at his shoes and came up with "Blackfoot".

In 1951 Ray was signed a recording contract with Okeh Records, the R&B subsidiary of Columbia Records. Later that year he recorded two songs that were produced by Mitch Miller: "Cry" and "The Little White Cloud That Cried", with the Four Lads as his background singers.

Chart position: #2 (US).

"The Little White Cloud That Cried" was the 18th most popular song for the entire year of 1952, according to Billboard.

For the week of March 6, 1952, Johnnie Ray occupied half of the Top 6 positions in the US: #1 ("Cry",) #3 ("Please Mr. Sun") and #6 ("The Little White Cloud That Cried".)

Written by:
Johnnie Ray.

Feeling particularly sad, Ray was laying on his back on the grass with tears in his eyes. But once he saw a white cloud above in the blue sky, Johnnie forgot to cry. He realized he was not the only lonely thing in the world. A melody came to him, along with the title.

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