Hi all,
In response to the countless, most appreciated, emails and letters that just keep coming, I thought it was time to put it all together, my professional history, my music, my experiences, for all to see. Why anyone would want to know about my life escapes me however I guess in my own small way I’ve added a bit of flavour to the history of Australian singers/songwriters at home and away. Let me at least thank you all for your recognition of my work, the support, even the love you show so generously, undeniably makes me think perhaps it was all worthwhile.
Ray, aged 3, ready for his first live gig. Mum and Dad are both full-on in showbiz, “geez what’s a kid have to do around here to get noticed?Sing! And sing he did. His first live performance was standing on a chair, stretching for the microphone, in front of an audience of around 400 people at the Ramsgate RSL Club in Sydney.

In-tune all the way he sang “Zippity-Doo-Dah” and “I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus”. He brought the house down and decided right then music and centre stage was where he belonged. And the pay-off was also to his liking – an ice cream from proud Mum and Dad. Yep things were looking good. 

Fresh out of school, aged 16, Ray found himself touring with the nationally credited band “The Dave Bridge Quartet”. Mentored by one of Australia finest guitartists Dave Bridge, Ray appeared on Brian Henderson’s Bandstand, Johnny O’Keefe’s Six-O’Clock-Rock, and several other TV and radio shows

By 17 Ray was appearing in Lee Gordon’s many legendary rock’n’roll shows at the Sydney Stadium in Rushcutters Bay. He kicked off his own band the Telstars and started writing his own songs. His first hit song was a surf song ‘Reef Ride’ (believe it or not this is the song that went No1 in Switzerland, yep you read right, for six straight weeks). 

Ray toured Australia with the masters of harmony the Delltones and soon became known not only for his top tenor voice but also being the groups zany comic. “When your Mr Bass Man stands 6’5” tall you have to do something to get noticed so you have fun, it was fun, great memories, great audiences, no regrets” says Ray.

Working with Col Loughnan, a graduate of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, who not only had a great lead voice, but was also an awesome musical arranger and choral director you learn a lot. “Between tours we played the Coogee Bay Hotel to packed capacity many, many times, it was like our home ground, and a great place to party”. 

If you’re over 45 you know who the EXECUTVES were, if you’re under 45 just accept that they were big. The time had come for Ray to showcase his song writing craftmanship. Ray was one of the 3 lead singers, and guitarist, in the group. So versatile and talented were the group that they appeared everywhere, live shows, TV, even the theatre where Sam Shepard put them to work on his stage show MELODRAMA by the same playwrite who wrote HAIR. Ray wrote much of the musical score for the show adapting it for the local conditions.

With 4 hits in the top 10, three of which were Ray’s, they headed east to the US. 

Gold and Plantinum and an international anthem for the women’s liberation movement - I AM WOMAN is created. While not ‘everyone’ involved in the making of the song acknowledges it, this song was a collaboration created in much the same way as ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein’, ‘Lennon and McCartney’, and ‘Holland and Dozier’. Ray was the composer, Helen worked the lyrics. It all goes into the melting pot and a song is born. Ray already had hit songs, a musical stage production, and at least one song in a Hollywood movie when Helen Reddy asked him to help put together a few songs for her first album. Ray composed three songs for the album, two of them were picked up for the movies and I Am Woman made it into the history books.
Gold and Plantinum and an international anthem for the women’s liberation movement - I AM WOMAN is created. While not ‘everyone’ involved in the making of the song acknowledges it, this song was a collaboration created in much the same way as ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein’, ‘Lennon and McCartney’, and ‘Holland and Dozier’. Ray was the composer, Helen worked the lyrics. It all goes into the melting pot and a song is born. Ray already had hit songs, a musical stage production, and at least one song in a Hollywood movie when Helen Reddy asked him to help put together a few songs for her first album. Ray composed three songs for the album, two of them were picked up for the movies and I Am Woman made it into the history books.
New York, New York. While exploring his options in the US Paramount offers Ray a recording contract to produce an album of his original songs. They provide a comfortable, cosy spot in the Parmount Gulf & Western Building overlooking Central Park, Manhattan. This was actually before "I Am Woman" was even thought of. STRIVE, SEEK, FIND – with Burton and Cunico on vocals was voted ‘The Album Release of the Month’ on the US FM Radio Report. This LP won a merit award over such ‘heavyweights’ as Sly and the Family Stone. Buckminster Fuller, the guru of scientific design, heard the album and went out of his way to contact the record company to express his sentiment on the sensitive insight of human nature and spiritual awareness portrayed in the music.
Heading home. “You tour the US, on the road for over a year, you learn a lot about yourself, about people, and you morph. The word ‘soul’ now had a real hold on me. I could sing the blues because I could feel the blues. I missed home, my family, my mates, my peers, I needed to write and touring leaves you no time to express yourself. You perform, you deal with what all of that means, your worry about burning out and a little alarm bells goes off. I heard it and I came home”. My first gig back home was with Doug Parkinson. “Doug offered me a spot in his new band LIFE”.
The band launched it’s career with yet another of Ray’s original songs – “Love Gun”.
AYERS ROCK - it doesn’t get any better than this. “You get together with two guys you really love to work with Duncan Maguire on Bass, Mark Kennedy on Drums and you get yourself a gig - support for a visiting international band Procol Harum. It’s just 4 weeks after you team up and you’re playing in front of 8 to 10 thousand people, bring the house down and the crowd to their feet”. You're home and it feels good, real good. So good you invite another one of your best mates to join, Jimmy Doyle out of Sydney. Then you convince a buddy who’s on his way back from studying in the UK Col Loughnan to climb on board. Together you change the name of the band to AYERS ROCK. You launch the band with three new original songs, one called “Morning Magic” (out now on a re-release of “Highlight of Sunbury 73 and 74”).
Big Arnie coins the phrase “I’ll be back” and Ray Burton personifies it. After months of losing himself in the hills of Northern NSW Ray’s true mistress “Ms Music” calls him back. He can’t resist and within days of arriving back in Sydney put together a five piece band with Rick Mellick, Peter Walker, Joe Tattersal, Steve Hogg. Their first gig – a monster tour of Australia supporting QUEEN. By the time they reached Brisbane the crowds were chanting for more which is rumoured to have slightly ruffled Freddy Mercury’s feathers. They also toured with the famous US band AMERICA

Ray’s original songs went over so well Warner Brothers signed the deal for the album DREAMERS AND NIGHTFLYERS.

Speaking passionately about his career Ray says “Playing with the famous CROSSFIRE band from Sydney - Greg Lyon, Doug Gallagher, Jim Kelly; guru Col Loughnan “is how I imagine my Heaven”. Ray’s played with the best of them, to name but a few - Billy Joel, Jimmy (McArthur Park) Webb, Dave Mason, Spencer Davis. He’d worked the Gaslight in New York where Bob Dylan began his career. In LA he worked the world famous “Record Plant” playing with Lee Sklar [bass], Russ Kunkel [drums] and Joe Osborne [bass]. Newspaper critics have hailed RB as a consummate man of music, “one of the finest talents in this country” to which Ray says “...no way, don’t put that on the web site it makes me look like a wanker”. To which those of us behind him say “your too humble for your own good RB”.
Seasoned musicians never stop they just pull more strings. “Singing for my supper has been my life, but song writing is my first love, I’ve never been able to find the OFF button, I still wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep until I get the idea down. I’ve cracked the technology code and my project studio is my comfort zone”. It’s in his studio Ray composed the music and lyrics that a few years ago won him the SOUTH PACIFIC SONG CONTEST. No longer a tenor “I can relate to Mr Cocker better these days :-)” chuckles Ray. He still comes out for a special gig, especially with peers he knows, but jingles, movie scores for short film projects, TV themes - even podcasts have been utilising his talent. Right now, Ray’s work with fresh talent and eager professionals keeps his creativity flowing.