(Islington, London) – Ray Charles waded into the eye of a racist taunts storm last week when, after a heavy night’s drinking with his band in the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington, he called popular new wave singer Elvis Costello a “stupid, four-eyed cracker.” According to members of Graham Parker’s band, the Rumour, who were also drinking at the pub, it was following a good deal of “banter” and “joshing” between the two groups that the R&B vocalist and pianist made the offensive remarks. Rumour guitarist Brinsely Schwartz claimed Charles was also disparaging of Nick Lowe calling him a “honkey poseur” and of pub rock in general saying it was “a combination watered-down American garage rock, country and R&B”.
Charles has since apologised for his comments saying that he had been drunk and had been attempting to be obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion, not anticipating that Schwartz would repeat his comments to the press. According to Charles, in trying to get rid of [the Rumour] “it became necessary for me to outrage these people with about the most offensive remarks that I could muster.”
Costello himself has forgiven Charles saying “anything he said to get that ofay midget Parker to shut up was acceptable.”
Editor’s Note: A good haul yesterday at Demelza House, Hythe which included the above, a UK mono 1962 re-issue of Charles’ self-titled 1957 Atlantic debut, itself a compilation of the previous four year’s singles. Having been dismissive of Brother Ray’s ABC recordings, I have to say this is the real deal, an excellent early R&B album, especially for a pound. More albums from this batch to follow.