Ray Pressley was born in Monroe County, Tennessee, but it appears his family
moved to Georgia when he was very young as a fan club journal notes he
got all his education in Georgia.
After he graduated from high school, he took a job for a short while with
a construction company. Then, he decided to join the U. S. Air Force.
When he entered the military service, he took along his trusty guitar, something
he had been playing since he was 14 years old.
After he was discharged from his military service, he started to think of a
country music career.
One of his first steps was to take part in a four week amateur contest that
would culminate in naming a winner in the fifth week. Ray won the first week
and again in the fifth - he sang "Many Tears Ago". That got him
a first prize of $50.00 and a chance to be a part of Tommy Trent's band.
He stayed with Tommy about a year.
But he was married and had a fmaily and was of the mind set that the music
business was meant for single people and thus, not for him.
About ten years went by, but Ray never really seemed to lose the urge to sing
in front of an audience and would often find a chance to do so. One night
he and his wife attended the Dixie Jubilee in Marietta, Georgia. When intermission
came, Ray went backstage. Somewhere he found a guitar and started a bit of picking.
Then one of the regulars happened to hear him and asked if he could sing. It was
probably a spur of the moment, right place, right time audition. Ray was hired
to be on the Dixie Jubilee.
It wasn't too long before Ray moved on to the Georgia Jubilee which aired
over WSB in Atlanta. Jim Reeves came to town one week and Ray got an opportunity
to do some songs for Jim. He took one Ray's compositions, "A World That's Real",
for his publishing company. In 1959, Cowboy Copas recorded the tune.
That gave him a bit more confidence that he could find more work in country
music. He went to Nashville and met Buddy Killen. He advised Ray to record
a record. After he did the recording session, he sent his tunes to Pappy Dailey
in Houston, Texas. This led to a contract with the "D" record label. His first
release on "D" was "Rose Colored Glasses" b/w "Ghost Of A Broken Heart".
But unfortunately the release didn't exactly catch on. But Gabe Tucker was of the opinion
that Ray had the talent, so two more records were released. One, "Let's Try Again"
reached the No. 40 position in Cashbox.
Ray kept making contacts in Music City. Ralph Emery introduced Ray to Don Pierce
of Starday records. They liked what they heard and signed him to their new "Nashville" label.
His first release was "You're A Part Of Me" b/w "Your New Love". Billboard noted in 1961
that Ray was in "...the traditional country groove". The flip side was said to "...sung
for good effects against traditional accompaniment."
One of the highlights of Ray's career happend on June 17, 1961 - he appeared on the
legendardy WSM Grand Ole Opry. After his appearance, he was on the Ernest Tubb
Midnight Jamboree show as well.
The fan club journal article mentioned his wife was Mildred and they had
three children at the time, Sheryl Anne, Wayne Eugene, and Karen Dale. His fan
club was headed by Helen White of Atlanta, Georgia at one time.
Credits & Sources
- "The Ray Pressley Story"; Sue Russell, Publicity Director
of Ray Pressley Fan Club; Fan Club article; Undated; Unknown which journal it came from