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The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
Ray Charles: I hear like you see. Like that hummingbird outside the window, for instance. Della Bea Robinson: [astonished] I can't hear her. Ray Charles: You have to listen. Della Bea Robinson: [closes her eyes, hears the hummingbird] Yes! Ray Charles: Yeah. Yes, you can... Uh-oh. Did you hear that? Della Bea Robinson: What? Ray Charles: Her heart just skipped a beat.
Bus Driver: All right! Rest stop, 45 minutes! C'mon, folks, we got to move! We leave at 2:45 on the dot! Can't be late! [to his white passengers] Bus Driver: Hot meals and bathrooms inside! [to his "colored" passengers] Bus Driver: All right, uh, there's a window out back for y'all to buy sandwiches. And I suggest you make good use of them outhouses! Ain't nothing but bushes for you in the Carolinas!
Fathead Newman: This ain't no weed, Ray. And we ain't snorting no bitch. This is boy! Boy'll make your ass null and void. Ray Charles: Null and void, just like my life.
Jack Lauderdale: So Ray, we got to talk about your name, man. Robinson. I mean, Sugar Ray got to Robinson franchise all sewed up. So I'm thinking we go with your middle name: Charles. As in "Ray Charles." Ray Charles: I don't care what you call me, man, just as long as my name is on the record.
Ahmet Ertegun: Ray, I'm gonna tell you something and I don't want you to take it the wrong way. Ray Charles: Well, then give it to me right then. Ahmet Ertegun: I signed you because I sensed something special in you not because you sound like Nate Cole or Charles Brown. Ray Charles: But I thought you liked what I do. Ahmet Ertegun: Look we love the tenor of your voice, your vituosity, your energy... Ray Charles: But not my music. Ahmet Ertegun: Man, I didn't say that. Ray Charles: Look, Ahmet, this is what I do. I gotta make a living. This is what the people want. I don't know no other way. Ahmet Ertegun: Well we gotta help you find one. Look, let's try a little change of pace. Your familiar with stride piano? Ray Charles: You kidding me, man? The man I learned the piano from was a stride player. Ahmet Ertegun: Okay, I've got a song. It's called the Mess Around. Ray Charles: Mess around. Cute title. Who wrote it? Ahmet Ertegun: I did. Ray Charles: Oh. You wrote it. Well, sing it to me, man. Ahmet Ertegun: Sing it? Ray Charles: Yeah, it's not like I can read the lyrics. Ahmet Ertegun: Alright. It's in the key of G. Ray Charles: Key of G. [Begins playing] Ahmet Ertegun: No. More like a Pete Johnson kind of thing. Ray Charles: Pete Johnson. [Begins playing again] Ahmet Ertegun: Yeah, yeah. That's good. Ray Charles: Oh, you like that? Okay, let's go.
Marlene: Gossie been cattin' with one of my waitresses since he got here. He never told me his partner was a blind 'Bama boy. Oberon: Marlene, Demure called. Thurman's sick. Marlene: What about Sassie. Oberon: Flat tire. Marlene: Alright, 'Bama, why don't you get up there and show me what you got. Ray Charles: Well, I, I'm not really prepared to do my thing, I mean, right now, tonight. Marlene: Well, this is the only audition you're gonna get, Puddin', so either get on up there or you and Gossie can haul your asses back down south. Oberon: [hands Ray a joint] Here smoke some of this. Ray Charles: [coughs] That ain't no tobacco, man! Oberon: No. Hold it in. It'll calm you down. Marlene: Alright, Oberon, get up there and introduce him. Oberon: Yes, Maam! Marlene: Come on, 'Bama. Ray Charles: Yeah! Oberon: I got a special treat for all you satin dolls and I'm not talking about Oberon's big thunder. No, that's for another show. We got some new blood for ya. Fresh off the bus from Florida I give you Ray "Don't Call Me Sugar" Robinson. Ray Charles: How y'all doin' tonight? Man in Bar: Better than you! Oberon: Relax, Ray, relax! Ray Charles: I got it. What do y'all wanna hear? Aretha Robinson: How 'bout a little Nat King Cole? Ray Charles: Y'all like Nat King Cole? [begins playing] Marlene: 'Bama ain't bad. Oberon: I'd say he saved our asses.
Jack Lauderdale: Smell that, Ray? It's the smell of success. We're in LA now. A place where the negro can really spread his wings and fly. Ray Charles: I know my ears ain't deceivin' me. Is that Art Tatum I hear? Jack Lauderdale: The one and only. You wanna meet him? Ray Charles: I, I really couldn't, man, Art Tatum's the most. Jack Lauderdale: So, listen, Ray, we gotta talk about your name, man. Robinson. I mean, Sugar Ray got the Robinson frachinse sowed up. So I'm thinkin' we go with your middle name, Charles. As in Ray Charles. Ray Charles: I don't care what you call me man as long as my name's the one on the record. Jack Lauderdale: Yeah, well, we gonna toast to that. Lowell Fulson: Hey! What's the haps, Jack! Jack Lauderdale: My man! Lowell Folson, meet your new piano player, Ray Charles. Lowell Fulson: Ray Charles. The Blind Sensation. Jack Lauderdale: Oooo, damn! We gonna use that on the album cover. Ray Charles: He's the real sensation. Mr. Fulson, I been listenin' to your music for year. Lowell Fulson: Hey, the man's got taste. Jack Lauderdale: Yeah, and the man ain't never been on the road with a band before so you gonna look after him while you're out there, right? Lowell Fulson: Hey, like he was my own brother.
[after Ray accuses Jeff of stealing] Ray Charles: How could you do that? We've been through so much. We were like brothers. Jeff Brown: Ray... if we were like brothers, why are you paying Joe more than you're paying me? Ray Charles: Damn all that. You broke my heart. Jeff Brown: Well you know what, Ray? You broke mine a long goddamn time ago. Ray Charles: Well, there it is. [Jeff walks away] Jeff Brown: You know something, Ray? You're gonna get yours one day. And I pray to God he has mercy on your soul, you son of a bitch!
[last lines] Della Bea Robinson: If only your mama was here. Ray Charles: She's here. She ain't never left.
Fathead Newman: Look at Ray over there. You see that? He feels her wrist because he figures that's the way to tell if she's good looking or not.
Ray Charles: [responding to knock on his door] Who is it? Ahmet Ertegun: Mr. Charles, my name is Ahmet Ertegun. May I have a moment of your time? Ray Charles: [opening door] What do you want, man? I'm at church. Ahmet Ertegun: I'm sorry. I'll come back later. Ray Charles: You're here now, what do you want? Ahmet Ertegun: Mr. Charles, my company, Atlantic Records, has just acquired your contract from Swingtime. I'd like to talk about your future. Ray Charles: Hold on, man. Don't jive me now. I ain't for sale. Ahmet Ertegun: May I sit down? [Sits in chair] Ahmet Ertegun: You see it seems that Jack Lauderdale has found himself, shall we say, a little over extended and has had to unload some of his talent. When your name came up I jumped at the chance to work with you. I'm a big fan. Ray Charles: What if I want to go to another company? There's a guy out there right now that's willing to pay me seven cents a record. Can you do that? Ahmet Ertegun: Man, I could promise you fifteen cents a record but you won't get it. Anymore than he'll pay you seven. What I will do is promise you five cents a record and pay you five cents a record. You think pennies, Mr. Charles, you get pennies. You think dollars, you get dollars. Ray Charles: I like the way you put things together. Omlet, you're alright with me. Ahmet Ertegun: Ahmet. Ray Charles: Ahmet. What kind of a name is that anyway. Ahmet Ertegun: I'm Turkish. Ray Charles: Well, it looks like Jack Lauderdale's bad luck is my good fortune. I always knew Atlantic was bigger than Swingtime. You do great music there. I dig Atlantic. Ahmet Ertegun: You could have fooled me. Ray Charles: Well, I gotta keep my eye on you city boys. Back home they call it country dumb. [Starts laughing] Ray Charles: It ain't Turkish.
[first lines] Aretha Robinson: Always remember your promise to me. Never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple.
Gossie McKee: Man, we're gonna be late. Ray Charles: I gotta get my own place, Gossie. Gossie McKee: Why? I mean you got free rent right now. Ray Charles: Like hell it's free rent...
Eula: Aretha! Aretha Robinson, what do you think you're doing? Aretha Robinson: Eula Bench, you promised me to split these washbaskets fair and square! Eula: And I did. Aretha Robinson: Hell, you did! You charged them white folks one thing and paid me another! Eula: Well, now, who's gonna wash all these? Aretha Robinson: You can! Now pay me my money! Eula: Alright, I'm gonna pay you your two little dollars, but don't you be expecting no more work from me! Aretha Robinson: I got all the work I need from you! Ray, George, come on! Eula: That's right! And don't y'all ever come back! Aretha Robinson: [to Ray and George] Y'all got to learn to read and write real good, so you don't have to work for folks like them. Scratch a liar, find a thief. Understand? Young Ray Robinson, Young George Robinson: Yes, ma'am.
Joe Adams: [showing Ray and his wife their new mansion in Los Angeles] This foyer is designed to impress anybody who walks in the door. There's a big winding staircase, just like "Gone with the Wind". Ray Charles: [to his wife] We should get our portraits painted, like Rhett and Scarlett.
Oberon: You know, Marlene and Gossie's the ones running the game on you, Ray. They sliced up the pie the first night you played. Thirty-five percent off the top. Plus Gossie's double scale as leader. Ray Charles: Leader. If anyone's leadin' the band I'm the leader! You know what? Forget the bohumps. I'm goin' my own way. Oberon: Who's gonna book your gigs? Marlene's got you locked up and she ain't about to let her golden goose go. Lady in Rain: [singing] Straighten up and fly right. Cool down papa don't you blow your top. [Speaking] Lady in Rain: Ray Robinson you are fan-tastic. Oberon: There you go man. Gimme some skin. Ray Charles: [Feels card in his hand] What's this? Oberon: Jack's card. I got his number at the hotel
Gossie McKee: What the hell's Ray doin' up there? Marlene: Auditionin' for you Gossie. Gossie McKee: He ain't no good without me. Marlene: How'd you and the 'Bama like to do a week here at the Chair. I know a good bass player. Nice jazz trio can score big. With the right manager. Gossie McKee: Manager? Marlene: Come on now, Gossie, don't be so small minded. You know you have to give to get. Gossie McKee: What exactly do I have to give? Marlene: Twenty-five percent. But I'll be gettin' you other gigs. Gossie McKee: Alright. Next question. What do I get? Marlene: What do you need? Gossie McKee: Double scale as leader. Plus ten percent. Marlene: What about the 'Bama? Gossie McKee: He's about as green as a blade of grass. I can handle him. Marlene: Yeah, he's green alright. So, Gossie, you don't have to worry about finding a hotel room for the 'Bama. He can flop at my place. Gossie McKee: You don't never change.
[talking about Jack Lauderdale] Gossie McKee: You need watching out for and he ain't got time to look after you the way I been looking after you. Ray Charles: Is that what you been doing, Gossie, watching out for me? Is that why you get paid double what I do? Gossie McKee: Who told you that? Ray Charles: Well it's true, ain't it? You and Marlene been gaming me ever since I got here. Marlene: Ray, baby, listen... Ray Charles: I ain't got to listen to you! Gossie McKee: Listen Ray, I been meaning to talk to you about that. Ray Charles: Then why aren't you talking? Gossie McKee: Look Ray, let's not do nothing stupid. Ray Charles: I might be blind, but I ain't stupid!
Margie Hendricks: You a cold-ass bastard, Ray!
[repeated line] Ray Charles: Don't jive me, man.
Ray Charles: Man, you told me if I think pennies, I get pennies. I'm thinking dollars, man.
Ray Charles: Could you do me a favor and close that bag? Quincy Jones: What's wrong with you? You got two hands. You can close it yourself. Ray Charles: I got two feet too. Could you close the bag?
[to Margie] Ray Charles: You know what they're saying about me? Said I lost something. Said I've gone middle-of-the-road. They might as well say the same thing about you. You were the soul of this band, now every time you're around you're just drunk. The drunk soul of a blind junkie. What a lovely couple.
Jeff Brown: Where you from Ray? Ray Charles: North Florida. Jeff Brown: Old North Florida boy. Your people still down there? Ray Charles: Naw. Jeff Brown: All right. Hey, pardon me for asking, but how do you get around so good without a cane or a dog? Ray Charles: How do you get around so good without a cane or a dog? Jeff Brown: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. Ray Charles: My ears gotta be my eyes, man. Everything sounds different, you know? That's why I wear hard sole shoes so I can hear the echo of my footsteps off the wall. When I pass by an open doorway the sound changes. Jeff Brown: Wow, that's cool. Ray Charles: You gotta learn pretty quick if you want to get around on your own.
Milt Shaw: You know, Ray, your contract with Atlantic expires in 4 months. Ray Charles: Yeah, I know. Ahmet and Jerry sent me my new contract. They're gonna double my royalties. Milt Shaw: Before we go down that road again I thought I'd check and see what else was out there. Ray Charles: Now, who told you to do that? Atlantic is family. Just like the Shaw agency. Milt Shaw: Ray, my job is to find you the best deal out there. Now, I had a very productive meeting with the folks at ABC Paramount and they are very interested. Ray Charles: No. How interested? Milt Shaw: How about a 50 thousand dollar advance every year for the first three years? You choose your own music. They'll deduct recording costs and pay you 75 percent. Now, look, Ahmet and Jerry are flying in tomorrow night. Will you at least put them off until I have a chance to talk to the boys at ABC? Ray Charles: Well, my mama always said there was nothin' wrong with talkin'.
Ray Charles: There's some things you're not understandin'... Della Bea Robinson: Well, make me understand, Ray! Ray Charles: Baby, when I walk out that door I walk out alone in the dark. I'm trying to do something ain't nobody ever done in music and business. But I can't do it if I'm alone everywhere I go. I don't wanna be alone here, Bea. Not in my own home. Look, Bea, if you don't understand me, then who will?
Ray Charles: [Listening to the trumpet playing] Ah, c'mon, Q it's not that complicated. Now let's just play it again. That's a b-flat, c-7th, scale it up and triple off the back end. [Listens to the trumpet] Ray Charles: Yah-da-da-da-da, yeah. That's it. Marlene: Ray, what did I tell you about cooking in the dark? Are you trying to burn the house down? Ray Charles: Think about it, Marlene, what do I need the light for? Marlene: Well, you don't need to be cooking anyway. We brought you take out from Oscar's. Ray Charles: Well, get your money back. I got fried chicken right here. Come on, 7-0, try this. Quincy Jones: Yeah, it's about time. Ray Charles: Yeah, that's home cooked right there. Marlene: [Ray offers her some of the chicken] No, thank you. Quincy Jones: Mmm, this is the most 6-9. Just needs a little hot sauce, be perfect. Ray Charles: So, what'd Jack Lauderdale have to say? Marlene: Oh, I clocked him comin' out the gate. The man was a two-bit hustler. Ray Charles: Oh, I see. Gossie McKee: Yeah, it turns out the only hit Swingtime ever had was Open the Door, Richard which was a joke record. Ray Charles: Well, what about him recording me? Marlene: Oh, he'll record you, if we pay the freight. Ray Charles: Scratch a lie. Find a thief. Marlene: What's that supposed to mean? Ray Charles: This. [Shows some cash] Ray Charles: You see I saw Jack Lauderdale tonight and he gave me a $500.00 advance on my record. He also said he'd put me on the road with Lowell Folsum and pay me three times as much as you been paying me. Marlene: Now, that's a lie! Gossie McKee: Ain't no way he's gonna put some blind man on the road. Think about it! I mean, you need watchin' out for and he ain't got to time to look after you the way I been lookin' after you. Ray Charles: Is that what you been doing, Gossie, watchin' out for me? Is that why you get paid double what I do? Gossie McKee: Who told you that? Ray Charles: Well, it's true, ain't it. You and Marlene been gamin' me since I got here. Marlene: Ray, baby, listen. Ray Charles: Ain't got to listen to you!
Della Bea Robinson: He isn't my gift to you, he's your son.
Ray Charles: Whoa Nelly!
Aretha Robinson: If you want to do something to make your mama proud, promise me. Promise me you won't let nobody turn you into no cripple, you won't become no charity case, and you'll stand on your own two feet. Young Ray Robinson: I promise. Aretha Robinson: I love you, baby. I'm so proud of you.
Ray Charles: That's Diz. Emanon! Quincy Jones: Yeah, but what's it spell backwards? Ray Charles: Come on man, why don't you give me something difficult? "No name." Quincy Jones: Say, daddy-o, what axe you play? Ray Charles: Uh, piano. Just blew in from Tampa, Florida. Me and my partner, Gossie McGee, came here, you know, want to fatten up our style. Cop some licks from some more experienced cats, you dig? Quincy Jones: You know what? Why don't you let me take you inside? You know, show you around. Ray Charles: All right. Perfect gentleman. Quincy Jones: Yeah, this is just like my place. So, what's your name? Ray Charles: Ray Robinson. Quincy Jones: I'm Quincy Jones.
Ray Charles: You told me to find my own voice.
Gossie McKee: Look, Ray! Ray! We can make a new deal; whatever'd make you happy! Ray Charles: The deal is *you* can "lay the pipe" now!
Ahmet Ertegun: If you think pennies, Mr. Charles, you get pennies. If you think dollars, you get dollars.
Della Bea Robinson: Let me call you a cab. Ray Charles: I got it. Three blocks up, left for two, right for one, fifteen giant steps and I'm at the Crystal White Hotel. Hello!
[Ray is recording "Georgia on my Mind"] Margie Hendricks: Listen to that crap. I thought you said ABC wasn't gonna force nothing on him. Jeff Brown: They didn't. It was Ray's idea. Something new. Margie Hendricks: What are we then, Jeff? Something old? Fathead Newman: Yeah. We got to eat too.
[deleted scene] Oberon: I asked Marlene for a raise the other day. You know what she said. She said I should be grateful I ain't back at the circus, getting out of a car with ten other midgets. Ray Charles: That's Marlene. Oberon: Bitch knew just how to shut me up, threatening to take away my bacon. 'Cause you know man. When I'm up on that stage with a mic in my hand, and the lights in my face, ain't nobody bigger than me. Nobody baby. Ray Charles: Yeah, when I'm up there playin', I mean they really shut up and listen. Nobody lookin' down on me, or no bad dreams. I'm home free. Oberon: You know, Marlene and Gossie are the ones running the game on you Ray. They sliced up the pie the first night you played. Thirty-five percent off the top. Plus Gossie's double scale as leader. Ray Charles: Leader? If anyone should be getting paid for being the leader I'm the one leading the band.
Milt Shaw: Ray Charles. We believe in your talent. We want to be in the Ray Charles business. We've already got you booked on a ten city tour with Roy Milton's Solid Senders and Tangula, the exotic shake dancer. Ahmet Ertegun: She is gorgeous.
Joe Adams: You don't have to talk to Ray, you're talking to me. Fathead Newman: I'll talk to whoever I damn well please and it sure as hell ain't you.
Ray Charles: From now on we're gonna sing a four part harmony. Ethel, I want you to sing alto. Margie, I want you to sing tenor. Pat, soprano, and Mary Ann, bass. Mary Ann Fisher: I ain't no bass. I'm a soprano. Margie Hendricks: I'll sing bass. Where we come from we can sing anything. Mary Ann Fisher: We talking about singing, sugar, not hog calling. Fathead Newman: Oh that's cold. Margie Hendricks: Who you calling a hog? Mary Ann Fisher: Well, if the corn cob fits.
Ray Charles: Marge is drunk, Jeff. Go home and sleep it off. Jeff Brown: Let me take you home. Margie Hendricks: No. I'll leave when I'm good and goddamn ready to. Ray Charles: She's good and goddamn ready right now.
Fathead Newman: Ray, this fool, Joe Adams, is trying to fine me for being late. Ray Charles: What time did you get here? Fathead Newman: What? Just now. The band's still setting up. Jeff never... Joe Adams: I'm not Jeff. Fathead Newman: That's a fact, Jack. Jeff Brown: Ray, you said the band was my thing. Ray Charles: That's right, I did. Jeff Brown: Fathead, you go on back to rehearsal. Fathead Newman: Ray! You know how it is, you've been there. Jeff Brown: Fathead, go on now. I'll take care of this. Ray you want to tell me what's going on man? Joe Adams: I'm not doing anything I haven't been asked to do. Ray's running a business. He shouldn't have to waste time hearing why people were late. Jeff Brown: I'm not talking to you, Joe. I'm talking to Ray.
Aretha Robinson: Somebody'll fetch you when the bus gets to St. Augustine. When your there, show'em this. [name tag] Aretha Robinson: Tell them your name is Ray Charles Robinson. Aretha Robinson: An' the sandwiches I made, don't eat them all at once... ya hear me? Young Ray Robinson: [starting to cry] Mama... please don't make me go away. I'll keep up with the normal kids. I'll be good, just like George. Aretha Robinson: This got nothin' to do with George... I've taken you as far as I can, baby. The teachers at St. Augustine know things I can't teach you. An' you need an education in this world. Young Ray Robinson: I don't want no education! Aretha Robinson: Shh! don't say that! Young Ray Robinson: I don't! I wanna stay here with you! Aretha Robinson: Stop it, Ray! I won't have you livin' hand to mouth like me, you hear? [after Ray nods] Aretha Robinson: Now... If you wanna do something to make Mama proud, promise me you'll never let nobody turn you into no cripple... You won't become no charity case. An? you will *always* stand on your own two feet. Young Ray Robinson: I promise. Aretha Robinson: I love you baby... I'm so proud of you.
Jerry Wexler: Ahmet believes we're family here at Atlantic Records. I believe we're family at Atlantic. Obviously you don't. Ahmet wouldn't believe it. You know what he said, Ray? He said you would never turn your back on us. Never for a schlockmeister like Sam Clark. Ha! That's rich. Sam Clark's a corporate slug who wouldn't know the difference between Earl Hines and Art Tatum! We let you grow here, Ray. Nobody's taking credit for your talent, but we nourished it. We let you do your thing. Goddamn it, we deserve better than this. Ray Charles: You know that I appreciate everything you guys have done here, Jerry. Ahmet, I'm very proud of the work we've done here together and Atlantic has done pretty good moneywise on my records, haven't they? Ahmet Ertegun: Yes, we've done very well, Ray. Ray Charles: You're the ones who taught me that making a record is business and find the best business deal that you can. Now seventy-five cents of every dollar and owning my own masters is a pretty damn good deal. Can you match it? Ahmet Ertegun: Ray we would love to match it, but we just can't. That's a better deal than Sinatra gets... I'm very proud of you.
[as Ray is going blind] Aretha Robinson: I'll show you how to do something once, I'll help you if you mess up twice, but the third time you're on your own. 'Cause that's how it is in the world.
Ray Charles: Hit the road, Jack!
Ray Charles: From now on you guys are gonna be called the Raylettes. Margie Hendricks: Does that mean we have to "let Ray"?
Jerry Wexler: [Listening to Ray perform "I Got a Woman"] Ahmet. Ahmet Ertegun: Yeah? Jerry Wexler: We gotta get this on wax. Ahmet Ertegun: Oh, yeah.
Milt Shaw: He's off the Chitlin Circuit. Down Beat just voted him best male jazz vocalist by a two to one margin. [short pause] Milt Shaw: Well, if you want to keep him in Philadelphia, you're gonna find him a bigger venue.
Ray Charles: Rises like mercury on a hot summer day.
Jack Lauderdale: Hey, Baby. You sound more like Nat than the King himself. What's your name? Ray Charles: Ray Robinson. Jack Lauderdale: Ray Robinson. I'm Jack Lauderdale, Swingtime records. Ray Charles: Hey, Jack! How you doin'! Jack Lauderdale: How 'bout us making a record together? Ray Charles: Oh, hell yes! Let's do that. Marlene: Can I help you? Jack Lauderdale: I don't think so. Me and Cool Breeze here just talkin' a little business. Marlene: Then you need to talk to me because I'm his manager. Ray Charles: Whichever way the wind blows. Marlene: It's blowing. Jack Lauderdale: Jack Lauderdale. Swingtime records. Marlene: Marlene Andre. Jack Lauderdale: Marlene. Gossie McKee: Gossie McKee. Jack Lauderdale: Gossie McKee. Marlene: Great set, baby. We're going to talk with Mr. Lauderdale here. Ray Charles: I'm gonna come down there and talk to him. Gossie McKee: You are doin' a fabulous job, Ray. Ray Charles: Hey, Goss! Yes, man. Hey look, let's talk to him about this record, man. Gossie McKee: No, no, we're gonna let Marlene handle that. You get Oberon to call you a cab, alright. Ray Charles: Guys! Guys! Oberon: Hey Daddy-O, want to smoke? I've got some gage fresh off the boat. It's clean and seedless. Ray Charles: So that's how it is, huh? You keep me high while they talk the business? Oberon: I ain't the one playin' you, man.
Ray Charles: If I feel the music, that means it's real. Quincy Jones: No, it ain't. Ray Charles is a sell-out. The blind Liberace, leaving those Rocking Chair roots behind.
Della Bea Robinson: I'm having second thoughts about this. I don't know nobody in L.A. Ray Charles: Look, Bea, I don't want my kids growing up in the South. Now L.A. is where, you know, a Negro can spread his wings and fly. Della Bea Robinson: Ray, my whole family is in Texas. Ray Charles: That's why we're moving to L.A.
Della Bea Robinson: The only thing that can help you is God, Ray! Ray Charles: Don't you talk about God! You have any idea how it feels to go blind and still be afraid of the dark? And every day, you stand and pray just for a little light, and you don't get nothing. Cause God don't listen to people like me. Della Bea Robinson: Stop talking like that. Ray Charles: As far as I'm concerned, me and God is even, and I do what I damn well please.
[Della Bea has just discovered Ray's drug problem] Della Bea Robinson: That stuff kills people, Ray. Now you've gotta stop it. Ray Charles: I don't have to do a *goddamn* thing!
[last title card] Title card: As celebrated as he became, he never forgot his roots, contributing over $20 million to African-American Colleges and charities for the blind and deaf. Title card: Ray kept his promise. He never touched heroin again.
Ray Charles: Art Tatum is the most!
Aretha Robinson, Ray Charles: Scratch a lie, find a thief.
[to Ahmet] Ray Charles: Don't worry about it, man. If this monkey gets too heavy on my back, I will get an organ grinder and put him to work.
Milt Shaw: He's filed a lawsuit, Ray, and it's more than a fine. This guy's got juice, he can get you barred from ever playing Georgia again. But he's willing to drop the suit if you make up the gig. Ray Charles: Not if it's segregated. Milt Shaw: Ray... I admire what you're doing, man, but you can't afford this. Georgia's our highest grossing state. Ray Charles: I'm never playing another Jim Crow joint ever again, do you got that? Milt Shaw: I got it.
Ray Charles: I want you to promise me something. Promise you won't feel sorry for me just because I'm blind. Della Bea Robinson: How can I pity someone I admire?
Marlene: [speaking suggestively to Ray] I've got some more blackberry cobbler for you!
Della Bea Robinson: [talking about Ray's drug problem] You have got to stop this now because there is something you love more then me... Ray Charles: No, don't say that, Bea... Della Bea Robinson: ...there is something you love more then me, the children, and every woman you ever slept with. Ray Charles: No, don't say that, Bea. You know I love you more then anythin' Della Bea Robinson: [shouts] It's your music! [starts to cry] Della Bea Robinson: And if you keep usin' that needle they'll take away your music and put you in *jail!* Is that what you want?
Ray Charles: I love the stories. You know, about fallin' in love, and having love knock you around, and then the pressures of the world on you so tough it makes you feel small. You just want to give your soul to God. You might as well, your ass belongs to him.
Milt Shaw: Forget second billing. Ray Charles headlines at a thousand per or no deal. [pause] Milt Shaw: Terrific.
Ray Charles: Ms. Antoine, it's been two weeks. Della Bea Robinson: It's been three. [they kiss and she pushes him inside] Ray Charles: Well, where's the preacher at and the wife? Della Bea Robinson: They're in Dallas till Monday. Ray Charles: Well, hallelujah.
Jerry Wexler: Ruth Brown's got a tour booked in Georgia. She needs a band. Ray Charles: I'll take it. I could write the charts for her, I could do backup, and I could also be an opening act. Ahmet Ertegun: Okay. But you're gonna be financially responsible. You're gonna have to make it work, Ray. Ray Charles: Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna make it do what it do, baby.
Ray Charles: I have a question for all of you. How would you like to go on the road with me? Margie Hendricks: Um, how much you gonna pay us? Ray Charles: Ahmet takes care of all of that. Margie Hendricks: You mean he don't listen to you? Ray Charles: You better know he does. Don't worry about it. Brother Ray will take care of all of you, honey. Margie Hendricks: Well my mama taught me to take care of myself, honey. Ray Charles: Well is your mother here? Margie Hendricks: No she's not, but I speak for us. Ray Charles: Okay Speak For Us, how about $20 a week. Margie Hendricks: We'll take $40. Each. Ray Charles: Forty each? Margie Hendricks: You heard me! Ray Charles: Naw! How about $25. Margie Hendricks: We'll take $30. Ray Charles: I better say yes before you talk me out of my drawers. [the Cookies cheer and laugh] Ray Charles: Is it a deal? Margie Hendricks: Oh! Yeah! Ray Charles: You'll be called the Raelettes. Margie Hendricks: Does that mean we have to let Ray? Ray Charles: Oh, what am I gonna do with you? Margie Hendricks: I'm sure you'll think of something.