Born in Memphis in 1944, Ray 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, playing nightly
at honkytonks, roadhouses, beer joints, nightclubs and the many Memphis recording studios. He achieved his promise with Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs – 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. The four Pharaohs parted ways with Sam.
By 1967, the summer of love, Ray left for Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, 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. Eventually, when
Jones moved to Malibu and took a contract with A&M, he lined up a deal for his old friend.
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.
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A Fire Somewhere
Summer of ’67. Ray Stinnett, original guitarist in Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs (“Wooly Bully”), finds himself drawn to the scene in Haight Ashbury and spends the ‘Summer of Love’ at the Morning Star Ranch in Northern California. In keeping with the zeitgeist of the times, he tunes in and drops out. Fast forward to ‘71 and Ray is back in Memphis recording his masterpiece for A&M at the legendary Fame and Ardent Studios with assistance from Booker T. and co-mixer/ engineer Richard Rosebrough (Chris Bell, Big Star). A&M shelves the album, and now, 41
years later, the record is finally available for the first time.
That’s the story and here’s where it ends up. Over 40 years in the making, A Fire Somewhere is an album oozing with swampy Southern charm.
A perfect melding of Memphis soul and San Francisco psych, folk, and