“I used to be accused of being ahead of my time, so I took some time off.”
– Ray Stinnett
A hippie-fied, soul-rock, folk-rock, psych-rock gem lost in the vaults for four decades, A Fire Somewhere by Ray Stinnett (best known as a member of ‘60s outfit Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs) sounds as fresh as the day it was cut, and comes with extensive liner-notes detailing the fascinating life of a little-documented ‘60s rock voyager.
Ray Stinnett, early 1960s. Image courtesy of the artist.
Born in Memphis in 1944, Ray Stinnett got his first guitar, aged 12, from Nathan Novak’s pawn shop, where Elvis got his first guitar. Before long, he was putting the plan into action, first in teen group Johnny and the Electros, then as a duo with drummer Jerry Patterson, playing nightly at honkytonks, roadhouses, beer joints, nightclubs and the many Memphis recording studios. He achieved stardom with Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, whose Wooly Bully was the number one selling record of 1965. At 21, Stinnett was living a life of world tours and screaming fans – the whole mania. The wheels fell off a year later, amid managerial disputes.
Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs, at Sun Studios, 1964. Image courtesy of the artist.
By 1967, the summer of love, Ray left Memphis for Haight Ashbury in San Francisco with his wife and young son, taking up residence at the legendary Morning Star Ranch, where Ray focused on finding his true voice. Returning to Memphis a year later, Ray formed a working friendship with Booker T Jones, who produced Ray’s unreleased Sun Tree at Pepper West album. Eventually, when Jones moved to Malibu and took a contract with A&M, he lined up a deal for his old friend.
Ray and Sandra Stinnett with Friends, 1969. Image courtesy of the artist.
Still working in Memphis with (old) friends Jerry Paterson and Mike Plunk on bass, along with Booker T and co-mixer/engineer Richard Rosebrough (Chris Bell, Big Star), Ray channelled his experiences in the pop machine, at Morningstar and beyond into the songs that would become A Fire Somewhere. It funnelled the vast experiences of this pop star, cosmic traveller and grounded, loving father. The songs contained the fried country twang and boogie-woogie grooves of his hometown and of his youth, but were also threaded through with the new psychedelia – shreds of distorted guitar, looping experimental jams and acoustic renditions. For a taste of this, head over to Aquarium Drunkard for a full stream of the lazy-love-ode “Honey Suckle.”
Ray Stinnett, 1971. Image courtesy of the artist.
By summer, the album was ready for release, however when winter arrived, it remained on the shelf. A&M reassured Ray that they were going to make him a superstar. Ray had already done that; he just wanted the songs released. Soon, they hit an impasse. Ray took his tapes and songs and went on with his life. In the end, A&M’s loss – is our gain. Listen, and enjoy, this message from another time, and from an old head on young shoulders. “It’s a torch that’s been carried forty years through the desert, waiting for this moment to arrive,” says Ray. Be sure to come out Sunday October 7th (4-6pm) for the release party and a very special performance by Ray Stinnett at Mount Analog in Los Angeles.
Ray Stinnett - A Fire Somewhere (LITA 088) pre-order now at LightInTheAttic.net
* Original album Executive Producer: Booker T Jones
* Original art intended for 1971 album release, seen for the first time
* All songs previously unreleased
* CD with 40-pg book with liner notes by Jessica Hundley interviewing Ray with unseen photos
* 2x LP with download card for full album, plus the same liner notes and rare photos, and reproduction of original 18×24′’ fold-out poster
* Limited edition (200 copies on psychedelic orange swirl vinyl) pressing available to the first 200 pre-orders at LightInTheAttic.net. Limit 1 per customer.