Fender Robert Cray Guitar

Fender Robert Cray Guitar

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Robert Cray is an American blues musician, guitarist, and singer. According to the book Guinness Rockopedia, "the 1980s 'blues revival' revolved around Cray. His blend of soul vocals and blues guitar work won approval from the 'old guard' - Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Cray is also a multiple Grammy Award winner.

Cray has generally played Fender guitars (Telecasters and Stratocasters) and there are two signature Robert Cray Stratocasters models available from Fender. The Robert Cray Custom Shop Stratocaster is made in the U.S. in the Fender custom shop and is identical to the guitars that Cray currently plays, while the Robert Cray Standard Stratocaster is a less-expensive model made in Fender's Ensenada, Mexico plant.


Cray started playing guitar in his early teens. At Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia, his love of blues and soul music flourished as he started collecting records. Originally, he wanted to become an architect, but around the same time he began to study architectural design, he formed a local band "Steakface", described as "the best band from Lakewood you never heard of".

By the age of twenty, Cray had seen his heroes Albert Collins, Freddie King and Muddy Waters in concert and decided to form his own band; they began playing college towns on the West Coast. Cray and his long-time bassist Richard Cousins had met in 1974. They soon joined up with Collins as his backing unit, before branching out on their own. In the 1978 film, National Lampoon's Animal House, Cray was the uncredited bassist in the house party band, Otis Day and the Knights. With keyboardist Peter Boe and drummer Tom Murphy, they launched the Robert Cray Band in 1980 with Who's Been Talkin'. It was recorded during constant touring in the U.S. in 1978. The record was initially shelved for two years, being eventually issued by the short-lived Tomato label (whose license was picked up by Atlantic (U.S.) and Charly in the UK.

After several years of regional success, Cray was signed to Mercury in 1982. It was the connection with the producing and songwriting team of Bruce Bromberg and Dennis Walker at Hightone that helped to create the mold-breaking music of Bad Influence (1983) and False Accusations (1985). In 1984, The Robert Cray Band completed their first European tour to critical acclaim. Cray's participation with Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland on Showdown! (1985, Alligator) and his own 1986 album release, Strong Persuader, again produced by Walker, both received Grammy Awards, while the crossover single "Smoking Gun" gave him wider appeal and name recognition. During 1986 Cray played 170 concerts, including his seventh European tour since 1984, building on his increasing reputation in the UK.

Cray then appeared in the Chuck Berry biopic, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, in 1986. One month later Cray won six W.C. Handy Awards at America's seventh National Blues ceremony. April 1987 saw Strong Persuader reach #13 in the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first blues album to reach the U.S. Top 20 since 1972. The album went on to sell over one million copies. By now, Cray was an opening act for such major stars as Eric Clapton (who remains a friend to this day), and sold out larger venues as a solo artist. Cray appeared alongside John Lee Hooker on his album Boom Boom, playing the guitar solo in the song "Same Old Blues Again". He was also featured on the 1989 Hooker album, The Healer; he played a guitar solo on the song "Baby Lee".

Sales ticked over for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1988), Midnight Stroll (1990), I Was Warned (1992) and Shame + A Sin (1993), dwindling only with 1995's Some Rainy Morning. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was recorded in Los Angeles, California, and featured David Sanborn on guest saxophone. The title song from the album won Cray his third Grammy, and he guested on Clapton's Journeyman, whilst also being on the bill at Clapton's eighteen show marathon at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In 1991 Cray was selected to present Howlin' Wolf's induction trophy to Wolf's widow, Lilly Burnett, at the sixth annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Awards. Later that year Cray took part in the Newport Jazz Festival with B. B. King and John Lee Hooker.

Cray was invited to play at the 'Guitar Legends' concerts in Seville, Spain at the 1992 Expo, where he played a signature track, "Phone Booth". Albert Collins was also on the bill on the evening of these 'Legends' gigs. Cray later joined Boz Scaggs, Johnny Rivers and The Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Memphis Horns in Memphis, Tennessee.

Cray signalled a new direction in 1997, with his soul album, Sweet Potato Pie. After switching to Rykodisc in the late 1990s Cray released Take Your Shoes Off in 1999, and Shoulda Been Home in 2001. Take Your Shoes Off was another Grammy winner as Best Contemporary Blues Album. A Grammy was also awarded in 1997 to Cray for the Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "SRV Shuffle".