It's me once again!! Those of you who have been fans of Ray Stevens for more than 30 years will know that the 1990s were a decade of opportunity for Ray and a decade full of overdue recognition. He kicked off the decade on a new record label, Curb/Capitol Records. The major news, though, came later in 1990 when he announced the construction of a new music theater in Branson, Missouri. Ray released two back to back studio albums on Curb/Capitol in 1990 and 1991: Lend Me Your Ears and Number One with a Bullet. Curb Records also released two compilation albums on Ray in 1990 and 1991: His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits (a Gold record) and Greatest Hits. In the latter half of 1991 Ray opened The Ray Stevens Theatre in Branson, Missouri. It's first season ran through the end of 1991. It was in the interim that he produced some brand new music videos...for it was the 1990s that saw Ray move into the business of video production.
His own label, Clyde Records, financed a couple of VHS video tapes in 1992: Amazing Rolling Revue and Comedy Video Classics. The rolling revue VHS was sold through Ray's fan club and at the gift shop at his theatre. The second VHS, however, was marketed on television...to unexpected and unprecedented success in the field of VHS marketing and sales. Curb Records began distributing the classics VHS to retail stores in 1993 and sales from the VHS caused it to shoot to number one on Billboard's Top Video chart and it remained in or near the Top-10 for more than a year. Ray, in the meantime, was busy with concerts at his Branson theatre. 1993 had marked Ray's third consecutive season of concerts at the theatre...on the direct market front there was a brand new VHS, Ray Stevens Live!, and an additional VHS available through his fan club and theatre gift shop titled More Ray Stevens Live!. 1993 also saw the release of a new audio album, Classic Ray Stevens.
This album, in spite of it's title, features 10 brand new recordings. It's the album that contained the debut of "If Ten Percent is Good Enough for Jesus", a song that re-emerged in Ray's career 16 years later and became a hit all over again. It also features his rendition of "The Bricklayer's Song" as well as songs with such titles as "The Higher Education of Ole Blue", "The All-American Two Week Summer Family Vacation", and "If You and Yo' Folks Like Me and My Folks". The 1993 album also features a quirky song about an over-zealous security guard at a shopping center, a guard that the locals call "Super Cop". He's a combination Barney Fife and Police Academy's Tackleberry rolled into one. At the conclusion of the 1993 concert season Ray closed down his Branson theater and put it on the selling block in 1994. The same year he appeared on an episode of Music City Tonight, hosted by Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase, and he performed "The Motel Song" and "Super Cop". The 1994 performance of "Super Cop" is below...
It was on this episode in which Ray was presented a stack of awards for the sales of Comedy Video Classics. The VHS sold over 3,000,000 copies (direct mail and retail) and the two hosts kept handing him Gold, Platinum, Double Platinum, and Triple Platinum awards in recognition of it's success. A much larger plaque was presented to Ray showing Billboard magazine named it their Video of the Year. 1994 saw the retail release of the Ray Stevens Live! VHS and it had nearly a similar run of success on Billboard's Top Video chart as Comedy Video Classics. There were numerous weeks in which the two VHS tapes crossed paths with one another on the weekly chart...often flip-flopping chart positions per week. I make note of that just to illustrate the phenomenal success Ray was having with VHS tape in the early and mid 1990s. Ironically there was never a music video made of "Super Cop"...all that exists are two television appearances where he performed the song. The 1994 performance on Music City Tonight seen above and a 1993 performance on Nashville Now...in that 1993 performance Ray was escorted on stage by security guards, if memory serves me correct.
July 8, 2020
July 7, 2020
|Ray Stevens and Jeannie Seely|