Veteran Nashville Broadcaster Norm Ray Passes

Noted Nashville instrumentalist and veteran radio and television broadcaster Norm Ray died Saturday, April 17, at age 73.
He is perhaps best remembered for the wit and humor he displayed for 20 years on the Ralph Emery Morning Show, WSM’s The Waking Crew and for the 10 years he spent in the house band on TNN’s Nashville Now. For a time, he was also the host of WSMV’s The Saturday Morning Show.

A native of Hamtramck, Michigan, Norm Ray began playing saxophone at age 5. He started his recording career in the Motown studios in Detroit, backing The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and other r&b stars. He moved to Nashville in 1965, joining Orchestra XII, one of the city’s last big bands.

In 1967, he broke into recording-studio work on Music Row by performing on the Elvis Presley soundtrack for Clambake. He subsequently recorded with Chet Atkins, Ray Stevens, Boots Randolph and others. He also played saxophone and flute in Randolph’s nightclub band.

Norm Ray is survived by his children Sherry Rau Carver, Norman Rau and Andrew Rau and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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