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HISTORIC ARTICLE
HISTORIC ARTICLE

Jun 2, 1962 CE: Ray Charles Tops the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for the Third Time

Jun 2, 1962 CE: Ray Charles Tops the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for the Third Time

On June 2, 1962, Ray Charles’s version of the country ballad “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” into which he infused elements of soul, jazz, and pop, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Grades

5 - 11

Subjects

Arts and Music

Image

Ray Charles

Black-and-white photo of Ray Charles.

Photograph by Eric Koch, courtesy Nationaal Archief (Netherlands). This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license.

On June 2, 1962, Ray Charles topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the third time with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” The song was the biggest hit off his groundbreaking crossover album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Charles was already a music star, nicknamed “the Genius,” when he decided to record an album of country music. At the time, the civil rights movement in the United States was underway and racial strife widespread. Charles was Black, and the country music industry—its artists and fans alike—were largely white. Charles made Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, blending country, soul, jazz and pop, even though executives at his record company discouraged him from making a country album. Charles emphasized his unique style in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, saying, "When I sing 'I Can't Stop Loving You,' I'm not singin' it country-western. I'm singin' it like me." Nonetheless, other musicians praised Charles for advancing the genre. Country star Willie Nelson said Charles “did more for country music than any other living human being.”

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Writer
National Geographic Society
Producer
National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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