Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Big Ray & Chicago's Most Wanted - Big Ray was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. He was surrounded by the musical influences of Buddy Scott and Johnny Dollar, who would take a young (but even then big) Ray to the clubs where they were playing. Big Ray began his musical career as a singing bartender at Brady's, where the nightly lineup included Billie Branch and the Sons of Blues, Jody Williams, Willie Kent and the Gents, and J. W. Williams. Ray sang along with the bands and entertained while mixing drinks for a roomful of customers.
In 1989, he formed his own band and performed as the opening act for Smilin' Bobby. He soon found he could pick up extra money filling in as a drummer for the main acts when their own drummers proved unreliable and didn't show up for the gig. Being a solid drummer as well as a dynamic vocalist, Ray was soon in demand and working nonstop.
Big Ray was asked to join the legendary Otis Rush blues band in 1995. He toured with Otis as his band leader and drummer to Japan, Europe, and throughout the United States. Along the way, he played with Otis Clay, Luther Allison, John Primer, Lefty Dizz, Syl Johnson, and many, many more. Currently, Big Ray tours with Jimmy Johnson as his band leader and drummer, as well as doing his own thing with his band - Chicago's Most Wanted. He has a steady gig with his band at one of Chicago's oldest and most respected blues clubs - the North Side's own B.L.U.E.S. On Halsted - the first and third Wednesday of every month.
Big Ray and Chicago's Most Wanted also play regularly at clubs all around Chicago as well as festivals throughout the United States and around the world, including the Chicago Blues Festival. He uses his charismatic style and soulful voice to draw a crowd in and keep the audience involved, often singing along, from the beginning of the night until the very end. Chicago's Most Wanted is a group of world renowned musicians who, each on their own, delight and amaze audiences, but together they form the best Chicago has to offer.
It's what makes them Chicago's Most Wanted.