A journeyman singer who never quite broke through despite a few songs which showed promise and someone who today is more likely to be initially mistaken for a female by casual researchers thanks to his name than he is to be known for his work which remains frustratingly obscure.

Most of what’s known about Laverne Ray is found simply in his recordings. He first shows up in 1948 on tiny Sterling Records before seemingly getting his big break when he signed with Jubilee in 1949. The company was thriving thanks to a string of huge hits by The Orioles and seeking to make further inroads into rock ‘n’ roll signed Ray hoping to expand their roster with potential hit-makers. After an initial single released in late 1949 backed by The Three Riffs, the company and artist made their intentions blatantly obvious as his second – and last – single for the label was a song called “Rock And Roll”.

But even that release increased the possibility of confusion as he’s paired with Arlene Talley, a 17 year old who’d have sporadic record deals herself before settling into a career as jazz singer in the New York club scene. Because of Ray’s feminine surname and the presence of an actual female lead on the record – though Talley was also credited on the label herself – Ray wasn’t able to capitalize on it, not that it was successful enough to make future opportunities inevitable to begin with.

In 1957 Ray resurfaced, now leading a vocal group called The Raytones, something which ran the risk of further confusing the singer’s identity since it included female vocalist many assumed must be “LaVerne”. Though their releases on OKeh Records showed he’d adapted well to the more nonsensical youthful vibe of late Fifties rock, the singles didn’t have any success and Ray soon faded away, an interesting footnote at best in rock history.

LaVERNE RAY DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Jubilee 5022; February, 1950)
A solid effort at establishing himself as a rocker with able vocal support provided by co-credited Arlene Talley, the song’s sentiments are an accurate depiction of the musical excitement without doing too much more to drive the point home.

(Jubilee 5022; February, 1950)
A sequel of sorts to the Deacon Jones trilogy from a few years back sounds alright in passing but the story doesn’t have the depth or the humor to live up to its predecessors making this a rather shallow attempt to live off the reputation of the earlier songs by better artists. (5)