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Edward Garvin Futch (born August 19, 1944), known professionally as Eddy Raven, is an American country music singer and songwriter. Active since 1962, Raven has recorded for several record labels, including ABC, Dimension, Elektra, RCA, Universal, and Capitol Records. His greatest commercial success came between 1984 and 1990, during which time Raven achieved six number-one singles on Hot Country Songs: "I Got Mexico", "Shine, Shine, Shine", "I'm Gonna Get You", "Joe Knows How to Live", "In a Letter to You", and "Bayou Boys". Raven has a total of eighteen top-ten hits on that chart. In addition to his own work, he has written singles for Don Gibson, Randy Cornor, Jeannie C. Riley, and The Oak Ridge Boys among others. Raven's music is defined by mainstream country, country pop, Cajun music, and reggae, and he wrote a large number of his singles by himself.

Eddy Raven
Eddy Raven.jpg
Eddy Raven in 2016. Photo by Sheila Futch
Background information
Birth nameEdward Garvin Futch[1]
Born (1944-08-19) August 19, 1944 (age 75)[2]
OriginLafayette, Louisiana, U.S.[2]
Genres[1]
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
InstrumentsVocals
Years active1962-present
Labels
WebsiteEddyRaven.com

BiographyEdit

Edward Garvin Futch was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, on August 19, 1944.[2][3] He is the oldest of ten children, and his father worked as a truck driver.[4] Influenced by Cajun music, the country music sounds from popular radio broadcasts such as the Louisiana Hayride, New Orleans blues, and the new sounds of rock and roll, Futch first played in a band at age thirteen.[3] He later went to work for a radio station in Georgia, where in 1962 he self-released the single "Once a Fool".[3] The single was credited to "Eddy Raven" due to a printing error, but Raven chose to keep that as his stage name.[5] When his family moved back to Louisiana, Raven worked at a recording studio called La Louisianne Records and its outlet The Music Mart, where he recorded and released his first album, That Cajun Country Sound.[1]

Musical careerEdit

BeginningsEdit

Raven's record was heard by Jimmy C. Newman, who helped him sign to a publishing contract with Acuff-Rose Music. Both Newman and Raven's father then encouraged him to move to Nashville, Tennessee.[6][5] There, he wrote singles for Don Gibson, Connie Smith, Jeannie C. Riley, and Randy Cornor.[1] Raven began recording for ABC Records in 1974 after Acuff-Rose songwriter and producer Don Gant became head of artists and repertoire (A&R) for that label.[1] His first charted single on Hot Country Songs, "The Last of the Sunshine Cowboys", came in 1974 on ABC. Raven charted seven more singles for the label between then and 1975, the most successful being "Good News, Bad News", which achieved a peak of number 27 there.[2] One of his ABC releases, "Ain't She Somethin' Else", was later covered in 1984 by Conway Twitty.[7] ABC also issued one album, This Is Eddy Raven, in early 1976.[8] The album, also produced by Gant,[9] was reviewed favorably by Cash Box magazine, which stated that his "natural musical ability, coupled with the emotional levels of his voice, captures the full-flavor of each selection on this appealing album."[10]

Raven left ABC in 1976 when Gant also departed the label.[4] He signed with Monument Records in 1978, but issued only two singles for them: "You're a Dancer" made the lower regions of Hot Country Songs,[2] but "Colinda" did not chart and Monument closed its country division soon afterward.[11] After leaving Monument, Raven was encouraged by singer Bob Luman to travel to Texas and draw inspiration from that state's music scene.[4] This resulted in his 1980 album Eyes on Dimension Records, an independent label founded by his then-manager.[12] Ray Pennington produced the album, with additional production from Don Gant's brother Ronnie Gant on two tracks, and Raven wrote or co-wrote every song on it.[13] The album accounted for five singles: "Sweet Mother Texas", "Dealin' with the Devil", "You've Got Those Eyes", "Another Texas Song", and "Peace of Mind". The last of these was the most successful on Hot Country Songs, peaking at number 23.[2] "Dealin' with the Devil" was also one of the first country music songs to be promoted via music video;[11] specifically, Dimension Records shipped videocasettes of Raven performing the song to 54 stations that were surveyed by Billboard at the time.[14] Merle Haggard later covered the song on his 1981 live album Rainbow Stew Live at Anaheim Stadium.[15] Record World published positive reviews of the singles "Another Texas Song" and "Peace of Mind", calling the former a "plucky, self-penned tune that displays more of his writer-artist talents",[16] while calling him "one of the smoothest country singers around" in a review of the latter.[17]

In 1981, record producer Jimmy Bowen heard "Dealin' with the Devil" and helped Raven sign to Elektra Records. According to Raven, Bowen was the first record producer he encountered who was willing to let him record "my music, not what the record company wanted me to cut."[4] His only Elektra album, Desperate Dreams, came out late that year. The album accounted for four chart singles on Hot Country Songs between 1981 and 1982: "I Should've Called", "Who Do You Know in California", "A Little Bit Crazy", and "She's Playing Hard to Forget", the last of which became his first top ten hit there. Raven wrote the first three by himself.[2] At the time of the album's release, Raven said that many of his songs were inspired by situations that he had encountered while touring, noting that "Who Do You Know in California" was inspired by an affair he had heard of in Dallas, Texas, but changed to being set in California because the latter fit the song's meter better. A concert review in The Arizona Republic noted of Raven's style at the time that his style had potential for pop crossovers, while also considering "Who Do You Know in California" a standout song due to its lyrics not resolving the situation.[18] Also in 1982, The Oak Ridge Boys had a top 5 hit with "Thank God for Kids", a song that Raven had written and recorded while still on ABC but had not released as a single, due to label executives considering the song unsuitable for country radio.[19][4] Record World wrote of the album that Raven's "commercial potential has not yet been reached", while praising the vocal delivery on the singles.[20] Tom Roland of Allmusic thought that the album had more creative control from Raven than its predcessors did.[21] Due to management issues, he left Elektra after only one album.[1][11] At the time of his departure, he had a single on the charts titled "San Antonio Nights", which ultimately never appeared on an album.[2]

1984-88: RCA RecordsEdit

 
Frank J. Myers co-wrote several of Raven's singles, and formerly played guitar in his road band.

Raven moved to RCA Records Nashville in 1984. His first single for the label was "I Got Mexico", which also became his first number-one single on Hot Country Songs that year.[2] Written by Raven and Frank J. Myers, then the guitarist in his road band,[22] it was the first single from his RCA debut I Could Use Another You.[2] The album was one of the first production credits for Paul Worley, then primarily a session guitarist.[23] Also released as singles from the album were the title track and "She's Gonna Win Your Heart", which both placed within the top ten of Hot Country Songs.[1] Cash Box described the title track as "an upbeat tune stressing Raven’s clear, distinct vocals."[24] Writing for Stereo Review magazine (now known as Sound & Vision), Alanna Nash noted that while it had fewer songs written by Raven and a "slightly more mainstream" sound than its predecessors, the album was "well up to his own high standards", while also considering Raven's singing more upbeat and confident than on previous efforts.[25] Also in 1984, MCA Records (which acquired ABC Records in 1979) repackaged many of Raven's ABC recordings into a compilation album titled Thank God for Kids.[26]

His next RCA album was Love and Other Hard Times, issued in 1985, also with Worley and Raven as producers.[27] It accounted for three top-ten singles on the country music charts: "Operator, Operator" (previously a single for co-writer Larry Willoughby in 1983[28]), followed by "I Wanna Hear It from You" and "You Should Have Been Gone by Now".[2] Raven co-wrote six of the songs on the album. In the process of recording, he and Worley chose to incorporate a more acoustic influence on some tracks, and thus chose Mark O'Connor to play fiddle and mandolin.[29] Cash Box reviewed the album positively, stating that it was "another exhibition of his fine vocal range and his valuable songwriting ability."[30] Billboard also published a positive review of the album, which said that his "haunting and sincere voice is matched here by some of the best material he's recorded in recent years."[27] In 1985, Raven was nominated for the Horizon Award (now known as the Best New Artist award) from the Country Music Association.[29]

Right Hand Man, released in late 1986 on RCA, accounted for four more singles: "Sometimes a Lady", "Right Hand Man", and "You're Never Too Old for Young Love" all achieved peaks of number three on the country music charts, while the final single "Shine, Shine, Shine" became his second number-one single.[2] Don Gant returned to production duties except for "Sometimes a Lady", which Raven and Worley produced; the album would also be Gant's last production credit, as he died shortly after its release.[22] In addition to Raven and Myers, other writers on the album included Gary Burr and Gary Scruggs, brother of bluegrass singer Randy Scruggs.[22] Nash wrote in Stereo Review that the album seemed to focus more on Raven's singing over his songwriting, noting that the album had a country pop sound than its predecessors.[31]

Raven's tenure with RCA ended with a compilation album titled The Best of Eddy Raven in 1988. In addition to most of his RCA singles, it included three new songs that were all sent out as singles: "I'm Gonna Get You" (written by Dennis Linde and originally recorded by Billy Swan in 1987[32]) and "Joe Knows How to Live", both of which reached the number-one position on Hot Country Songs that year,[2] while "'Til You Cry" peaked at number four.[2] All of these were produced by session keyboardist and record producer Barry Beckett, who had contacted Raven and expressed interest in producing for him. While Beckett had played on some of Raven's previous albums, Raven said that he was unaware of Beckett's roles as a producer at the time, and agreed to the offer after discovering that Beckett had been a producer on several recordings of which he was a fan.[5] In advance of the album's release, Raven toured the southern United States with then-labelmates Alabama.[33] After this album, Raven exited RCA due to dissatisfaction with poor record sales.[34]

1988-1991: Universal and CapitolEdit

In 1988, he switched to Universal Records, an independent label founded by Bowen. His initial release for the label was a cover of Shakin' Stevens' "In a Letter to You", also written by Dennis Linde.[2] The song was the first release from his only Universal album Temporary Sanity, which came out in 1989. At Bowen's request, Beckett also served as producer on this album.[35] Raven said of the album's sound that he wanted to add influences of Latin and Caribbean music to his sound, noting in particular the inclusion of steel drums on "Bayou Boys", and comparing "Zydeco Lady" to the sound of Miami Sound Machine.[36] In addition to these, the album featured a cover of .38 Special's "Little Sheba".[5] "In a Letter to You" was the first number-one single for the Universal label, achieving that position on Billboard Hot Country Songs,[2] along with the country music charts published by Radio & Records and Gavin Report.[35] This was followed by his sixth and final number-one hit, "Bayou Boys", which he wrote with Myers and Troy Seals.[2] Universal promoted all of the acts on its roster including Raven in June 1989 through a multi-artist performance at Fan Fair (now CMA Music Festival) hosted by Charlie Chase.[37] In December 1989, Bowen closed the Universal label to become president of Capitol Records' Nashville division, to which Raven and several other former Universal artists were transferred.[38] Capitol then issued three more singles off the album: "Sooner or Later" (co-written by husband-and-wife team Bill LaBounty and Beckie Foster, and previously cut by The Forester Sisters on their album You Again[39]) and "Island" both placed within the top ten of Hot Country Songs in 1990, but "Zydeco Lady" became his first single since 1979 not to reach top 40 on that chart.[2] Jason Ankeny of Allmusic called the album a "mixed bag", referring to "Island" as a "moody ballad" but calling the sound of "Bayou Boys" "hamfisted".[40] Billboard published a positive review of "Sooner or Later" which described it as a "pounding, rollicking number" that "should propel him back to those same chart heights".[41] Another album for Capitol Nashville, Right for the Flight, produced two low-charting singles, "Rock Me in the Rhythm of Your Love" (co-written by Robert Earl Keen[2]) and "Too Much Candy for a Dime", which were both unsuccessful on the charts.[2] Raven was dropped from Capitol's roster in September 1991.[42]

1994-present: IndependentEdit

 
Raven collaborated with Jo-El Sonnier on the 1996 album Cookin' Cajun.

His next album, Wild Eyed and Crazy, was released on Intersound Records in 1994.[1] The album included five new tracks, plus re-recordings of eight of his previous singles.[43] The book MusicHound Country described this album as "an album of reworked hits that sound pretty much like they did originally, supplemented by new, decidedly lackluster material."[44] This was followed by Cookin' Cajun, a collaboration with Jo-El Sonnier which was issued in 1996.[1] The album included renditions of Raven's "I'm Gonna Get You" and "Colinda", along with Sonnier's "Tear Stained Letter" and "No More One More Time". Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it "a good-natured record that is a lot of fun while it's playing".[45]

Capitol issued a compilation album in 1997 titled 20 Favorites, which included a mix of singles and album cuts from his Universal and Capitol catalog.[46] Also included on this compilation were two new songs, both issued as singles: "Johnny's Got a Pistol" and "Somebody's Tearin' the Flag". Both of these songs were subject to minor controversies, as many stations dropped the former song due to concerns about playing a song with a gun as the subject in the wake of school shootings, while CMT refused to air the latter's video because programmers felt that the song was not sufficiently mainstream in sound. At the time, Raven felt that the songs' failures were due to a preconception that artists of his age were not seen as suitable for mainstream country radio, combined with concerns over political correctness. Despite this controversy, Raven promoted both songs through performances at an American Legion convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Flag Day (June 14), and as part of Nashville's Independence Day (July 4) festivities.[47] Also in 1997, The Bellamy Brothers featured both Raven and Sonnier on their single "Catahoula".[48]

In 2001, Raven released Raised in Black & White on the independent RMG Records. The album was produced by Ron Chancey, and contributing writers included Frank J, Myers, Earl Thomas Conley, and Lonestar lead vocalist Richie McDonald. One of the songs on the album, "Coldest Fire", was a song that Raven had begun writing in 1987 at the encouragement of Gant, but found himself unable to finish for many years after Gant's death.[49] One single from the album, "Cowboys Don't Cry", charted at number 60 on Hot Country Songs.[2] Raven has continued to perform throughout the 21st century, including an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 2007.[50] Raven also co-wrote two songs on Toby Keith's 2011 album Clancy's Tavern,[51] and made a cameo appearance at one of Keith's concerts in July 2017.[52] In 2018, Raven released a bluegrass album called All Grassed Up, which features a mix of new songs and re-recordings of existing material, with accompaniment from the bluegrass band Carolina Road.[53]

Musical stylesEdit

An uncredited 1984 article in The Tenneseean stated that Raven's style at the time was "characterized by his emotive vocals and musical as well as lyrical hooks."[6] Raven said that he drew musical influence from his father, who largely listened to country music, but he also drew influence from the prominence of Cajun music in his native Louisiana. After discovering reggae music, he chose to incorporate occasional influences of that genre in his music, starting with "I Should've Called", on which session guitarist Reggie Young played a reggae-styled riff.[29] Thomas Goldsmith in The Encyclopedia of Country Music wrote that Raven's style was defined by "direct, soulful singing, skillful songwriting, and Cajun heritage."[34] Joe Edwards of the Associated Press said that Raven "has a deep, masculine voice that pours out incisive songs in a style he describes as 'Cajun reggae, Cajun Caribbean, electric Cajun.'"[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Raven has been married twice. His first wife was Gayle, whom he married in 1966. The couple had two children: Ryan and Coby,[4] the former of whom was the inspiration for the song "Thank God for Kids".[19] His second wife is named Sheila, and the two helped launch the RMG label in 2001.[54]

DiscographyEdit

Studio albums
Number-one hits (U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs)
Songs written by Eddy Raven[55]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Roland, Tom. "Eddy Raven biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Whitburn, Joel (2017). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2017. Record Research, Inc. pp. 293–294. ISBN 978-0-89820-229-8.
  3. ^ a b c "Eddy Raven biography". Oldies.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sandy Neese (December 15, 1982). "Eddy Raven to perform at 'Pennies'". The Tennesseean. p. 45. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Cyndi Hoelzle (February 16, 1990). "Sooner or later: Eddy Raven's story" (PDF). Gavin Report: 49.
  6. ^ a b "Eddy Raven keeps rolling out hits". The Tennesseean. September 30, 1984. p. 55. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  7. ^ Whitburn, pp. 372-373
  8. ^ "ABC releases three" (PDF). Record World: 71. February 28, 1976.
  9. ^ "Songwriter singing his own hits". The Tennesseean. August 16, 1981. p. 63. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box: 43. March 20, 1976.
  11. ^ a b c Robert K. Oermann (March 5, 1988). "Cajun Raven flies high with bayou sounds". The Tennesseean. pp. D1. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  12. ^ "Cajun adds his outlook to country". The Jackson Sun. January 1, 1982. p. 18. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  13. ^ Eyes (LP jacket). Eddy Raven. Dimension Records. 1980. 5001.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ "Vidtape promo success" (PDF). Billboard: 78. April 19, 1980.
  15. ^ "Rainbow Stew Live at Anaheim Stadium". Allmusic. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "Country Single Picks" (PDF). Record World: 48. September 6, 1980.
  17. ^ "Country single picks" (PDF). Record World: 50. January 10, 1981.
  18. ^ "Eddy Raven is durable in any mode". The Arizona Republic. April 27, 1982. pp. D5. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Joe Edwards (April 12, 1989). "Raven's Cajun heritage spices up country music". Courier-Post. pp. 7D. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  20. ^ "Country album picks" (PDF). Record World: 55. October 10, 1981.
  21. ^ Tom Roland. "Desperate Dreams". Allmusic. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  22. ^ a b c Thomas Goldsmith (April 25, 1987). "From country to Cajun, his fans are mixed bag". The Tennesseean. pp. D1. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  23. ^ "New looks from old faces". Billboard: WOCM10. October 13, 1984.
  24. ^ "Singles reviews" (PDF). Cash Box: 19. June 30, 1984.
  25. ^ "Popular music" (PDF). Stereo Review: 102–103. October 1984.
  26. ^ Edward Morris (October 13, 1984). "Greatest Hits Lead Holiday Blitz" (PDF). Billboard: 53.
  27. ^ a b "Reviews" (PDF). Billboard: 66. June 29, 1985.
  28. ^ Whitburn, p. 401
  29. ^ a b c "Eddy Raven's cajun roots run deep". The Tennesseean. October 5, 1985. pp. D1. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  30. ^ "Country album reviews" (PDF). Cash Box: 32. June 29, 1985.
  31. ^ "Popular music" (PDF). Stereo Review: 104, 106. April 1987.
  32. ^ Whitburn, p. 353
  33. ^ Gerry Wood (February 20, 1988). "Nashville Scene" (PDF). Billboard: 38.
  34. ^ a b The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 430.
  35. ^ a b Thomas Goldsmith (July 2, 1989). "Eddy Raven and Cajun cousins cook up spicy musical gumbo". The Tennesseean. p. 10. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  36. ^ John Lannert (May 5, 1989). "Gumbo madness". The Palm Beach Post. p. 16. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  37. ^ "Milsap, Oaks, Dirt Band among 90 Fan Fair acts". The Tennesseean. May 20, 1989. pp. D1. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  38. ^ "TICKERTAPE" (PDF). Cash Box: 2. December 23, 1989.
  39. ^ "You Again". Allmusic. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  40. ^ "Temporary Sanity". Allmusic. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  41. ^ "Reviews" (PDF). Billboard: 73. December 16, 1989.
  42. ^ "Inside track" (PDF). Billboard: 92. September 21, 1991.
  43. ^ "Wild Eyed and Crazy". Allmusic. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  44. ^ Brian Mansfield, Gary Graff (1997). MusicHound Country: The Essential Album Guide. Visible Ink. ISBN 157859006X.
  45. ^ "Cookin' Cajun". Allmusic. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  46. ^ "20 Favorites". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  47. ^ Robert K. Oermann (July 25, 1998). "Flags and guns breed trouble for outspoken Raven". The Tennesseean. pp. 1D, 2D. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  48. ^ "Reviews". Billboard: 76. February 7, 1998.
  49. ^ "Eddy Raven returns 'In Black & White' on RMG Records". Billboard: 37. January 27, 2001.
  50. ^ "Sweet Loretta graces the Opry stage". The Tennesseean. March 16, 2017. p. 9F. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  51. ^ "Clancy's Tavern". Allmusic. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  52. ^ Dave Paulson (July 22, 2017). "Toby Keith calls the shots". The Tennesseean. pp. 2A. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  53. ^ Lee Zimmerman (May 7, 2018). "All Grassed Up – Eddy Raven with Carolina Road". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  54. ^ May 13, 2001. "Eddy Raven Returns in 'Black and White'". CMT. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  55. ^ "Songs written by Eddy Raven". MusicVF.com. Retrieved 23 April 2019.

External linksEdit