Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
1953 Ray Gomez is born in Casablanca, Morocco. From early childhood, American music, rhythm & blues and jazz, in particular, Ray Charles, influence him. Surrounded by North African rhythms, Ray begins playing drums, followed by piano, and finally guitar. At age ten, he gives his first concert in front of 5,000 people, performs on radio stations, singing and playing music of “The Beatles.”
1965 Ray’s family migrates to Spain and at age 15, he joins the number-one instrumental group in Spain, “Los Pekenikes,” and wins the reputation of a being a young prodigy.
1971 At age 18, Ray’s band, "The Pop Tops," has an international hit, “Mamy Blue,” with three million copies sold worldwide, making it to number-one in Europe, South America and Israel.
1973 After meeting George Harrison, he is invited to England where he
frequents the hangouts of the leading progressive musicians of the day,
including Keith Emerson, Jon Anderson (“Yes”), Patrick Moraz, Mike Rattledge
(“Soft Machine”), Bob Tench (“Jeff Beck Group / Van Morrison”).
After a jam session with Carmine Appice (“Beck, Bogart and Appice” / “Vanilla Fudge”) and Rick Gretsch (“Blind Faith”), the idea of a forming a group is discussed and he is invited to the USA.
1974 On December 14th, Ray arrives in New York and in the same day, is asked to work with John Lennon. [The group with Appice will see the replacement of Rick Gretsch by Jeff Berlin, and dissolves soon after, to see another formation with Bill Bruford (“Yes” / “King Crimson”), which is also short-lived.]
1975 Under Will Lee’s recommendations, a meeting with Lenny White introduces Ray to the emerging scene of jazz/rock fusion, where he will collaborate with Stanley Clarke, Deodato, Narada Michael Walden, Herbie Hancock & etc.
1976 “Schooldays,” Stanley Clarke’s legendary album, is released; a true bass anthem that will be a memorable moment in the history of contemporary music. The critics recognize Ray as one of the great contemporary guitarists and he becomes known as a “guitarist’s guitarist.”
”Schooldays solo is one of the classics!” – Larry Coryell
”Ray Gomez is a genius…” – Jonas Hellborg
Atlantic Records offers Ray a contract, which is rejected in anticipation of a better offer. Due to the withdrawal of his passport by French authorities for failure to comply with the French military, Ray is unable to perform in France and Spain, and must pass on an offer to participate in a series of international tours and jazz festivals (Juan les Pins, Montreux, Pori, Nothsea…).
1978 Ray, Glenn Hughes and Narada Michael Walden put a band together, but their demands for labels were never met, and they returned to their solo careers. At that point, Ray already had a contract with Columbia to begin work on Volume.
Ray signs with Columbia and records his first solo album, “Volume.” The album receives accolades from critics and media, alike, climbing to number-one on the radio, notably, KSHE in St. Louis and BBC-1 in London.
“Everything you wanted in a rock record, but no one would record, is found on the new Ray Gomez. Straight-on rock to jazz to blues, and a little pop. It’s all on this one. Start-to-finish, it’s a winner!” – Charlie West, KMOD
”West Side Boogie erupts like Mount St. Helens spewing volcanic rock-licks, which could make Jeff Beck jealous!” – Peyton Mays, KZEL
Record company problems ensue, and lacking the necessary promotion and support, the record does not reach its deserving commercial success. Disillusioned with the recording industry, and unable to visit his family in France, Ray disassociates himself and takes a long respite from the music business.
1981 Ray engages in a new series of collaborations (Chaka Khan, Hall and Oates, “Scandal”...) and begins a period of teaching.
1984 Wanting a change of scene, Ray moves from New York to Los Angeles, where he remains for the next three years, and collaborates with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Steve Smith (“Vital Information”), Steve Perry (“Journey”), Aretha Franklin, Tori Amos, Narada, Brian Auger & etc.
1987 Ray leaves L.A. for Spain and the Canary Islands for a period of writing and pre-production of a new album.
1988 Set with new material, Ray returns to New York. The band, ”Steps Ahead” invite him to participate as guitarist and co-writer on the album, “NYC.” During the same period, he plays on Eddy Palmieri’s CD.
With the help of old friends, Tony Smith, Dennis Chambers and Chris Palmaro, Ray returns to live performance on the New York City club scene, with enthusiastic reception from the public and music community, alike. Recordings for new projects begin with the collaboration of Dennis Chambers, T.M. Stevens, Buddy Miles, Will Lee, Andy Newark & etc.
1991 Ray does an instructional video for “Starlicks” with Tom Brechtlein (ex Chick Corea, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson) and organist, Willy B. Smith (Robben Ford, Jackson Brown, Linda Ronstadt…), which includes four exciting performances.
1992 Through 1995, Ray is asked to write, produce, sing and play on commercials for Coca Cola, Brut de Fabergé, AT&T, Bell Atlantic, Palmolive, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Molson, Coors, Budweiser, KFC, Pontiac, Gillette & etc.
1993 Ray briefly joins Stewart Copeland (“Police”) and Stanley Clarke in the group, “Animal Logic.”
1995 While vacationing in the South of France, a friend of Ray’s brother, Jean Pierre, organizes a concert in the club, “l’Opéra,” in Cannes. The success of this concert initiates a series of trips to France for concerts with Philippe Chayeb (bass) and Loïc Pontieux (drums).
1997 Ray participates with other great guitarists for the concert, “Palabra de Guitarra Latina” in Palma de Mallorca, featuring Bireli Lagrene, Larry Coryell and Tomatito. A CD is released under the same name.
1998 Through 1999, more concerts in Europe are produced, including the “Festival de Guitar of Astaffort,” and a tour with “Palabra de Guitarra Latina” in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands.
2000+ Work on a new CD, live performances at European festivals, (“Jazz à Vienne,” “La nuit de la guitare” in Agen, 2003 ”Festival de Guitare dans tous ses Etats,” in Nerac), international & local club engagements and teaching round-out Ray’s current musical itinerary. Ray’s new CD project, “Honor,” is underway, and scheduled to be released shortly.