My Happy Ass

By Jay Allen Sanford | Published Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

According to drummer Bill Ray, “My friend called and said, ‘Hey, I’m watching this Smithsonian Channel program narrated by Morgan Freeman, and you’re on it!’ I was, like, WTF?” The TV show, Sound Revolution, included a segment on the late Ike Turner, for whom Ray drummed for years. “The footage was shot at the [2002] Montreux Jazz Festival,” says Ray, “and it actually included my happy ass playing a drum solo!”

Ray feels Turner’s musical legacy is finally being acknowledged. “I believe that the passing of his physical form has stripped away some of the hostilities people held toward him, and his accomplishments are becoming more known.”

As for Turner’s social legacy, “People don’t realize that Ike was the scapegoat for domestic violence. Public awareness of the issue skyrocketed because of that movie [What’s Love Got to Do with It, portraying Turner as a wife-beater], and it took such a person as Ike to bear that cross. That took fortitude.”

One of Ray’s current projects is, wherein he posts solo drum tracks and invites others to download and create their own songs around his beats, free of charge. “Neil MacPherson has been creating melodies and lines to some tracks,” says Ray. “Smooth-jazz guy Bill Cornish turned in a tune, and Dog Plays Bass from craigslist sent one along. A guy in Austria sent back a death-metal version to one of my tracks. I’m waiting for the gangsta rappers to start sending me squished, remixed, and tripped-out versions.”

He gives away the drum tracks free, though he notes, “If someone were to start making money off something with my tracks, I’d hope that karma would allow them to remember that I have a kid and he’s growing constantly.

“There’s no way anyone can keep a lid on digital media anymore. You might as well go in prepared to give it away and hope that somehow good things come around.”

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