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Author Topic:  RIP Ray Noren
Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2021 4:28 am    
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Ray Noren passed away earlier this summer, according to David DeLoach, who had spoken with Ray’s widow Trudi Mann at the extended care facility where they were living in Tennessee.

Raymond Leslie Noren Jr. was born in Michigan City, Indiana, March 21, 1928. His mother died when Ray was 9. He was eldest of 3, with a baby brother and middle sister. His father as a single dad moved back to southern Illinois to raise Ray and his sister while the youngest brother stayed with an uncle.

Ray was a steel guitarist whose history is a bit of mystery. I spent hours on the phone with Ray trying to piece together biographical info on Ray’s career and while he did share some info, much of it had been lost to the ravages of time, since Ray pretty much stopped playing steel guitar and music in general almost 5 decades ago. Some of Ray’s career highlights include playing twin guitars with a 15-year old Glen Campbell in Dick Bills’ band in New Mexico in the early ‘50s. At this time, Ray said he and Glen spent a lot of time together playing and Ray turned Glen on to Django Reinhardt. From there, Ray moved to Kansas City where he became a member of one of the bands on the Ozark Jubilee that included Grady Martin, Fiddlin’ Red Herron and Charlie Haden. Only recently, videos have been made available of these shows and several feature Ray. When I sent one of the videos to Ray’s wife a few years ago, it was the first time she and their kids had ever seen Ray play steel guitar.

Ray was unique in that he had a modified Rickenbacker D-8 that was set up with knee levers by none other than Zane Beck way back in the mid-50s. Ray also had a Bigsby D8 made in probably the very early 50s that was later owned by Mike Black, who established contact with Ray and later helped me get in touch.

I will update this as I am able to with pictures and more of Ray’s story.


Last edited by Mike Neer on 7 Jul 2021 5:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Terry Wood


From:
Marshfield, MO
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2021 5:23 am    
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Yes I have heard of Ray Noren. Yes and Zane Beck installed knee levers on a Steel Guitar for him some time in the early 1950s. I know Zane was doing that on his own guitars in the early 50s too. The guy he played for on the Louisiana Hayride would not let him use the steel guitar that he was playing with homemade pedals. So to disguise his steel guitar pedals Zane came up with the Knee levers, hidden under his Steel Guitar.
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Lucky Oceans

 

From:
Fremantle, W Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2021 5:14 pm    
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Thanks for letting us know, Mike. My condolences to Ray's family. Seeing him play on this video of Red Foley singing 'Birmingham Bounce' a few years ago was a revelation. The second half of his solo is pure music, so exciting! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VAtu62ZmAI
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2021 6:05 pm    
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Terry Wood wrote:
Yes I have heard of Ray Noren. Yes and Zane Beck installed knee levers on a Steel Guitar for him some time in the early 1950s. I know Zane was doing that on his own guitars in the early 50s too. The guy he played for on the Louisiana Hayride would not let him use the steel guitar that he was playing with homemade pedals. So to disguise his steel guitar pedals Zane came up with the Knee levers, hidden under his Steel Guitar.


Frankie Kay (RIP) told me that when Ray used to play the nightclubs, he would put a purple drape across the front of his steel so people couldn’t see what he was doing with his legs.
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Graham Griffith


From:
Tempe, N.S.W., Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2021 10:00 pm    
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Unfortunately I only ever connected with Trudi and didn't get to speak with Ray. Zane Beck told me he considered Ray as the main influence on his own playing. Ray could cut any number in any key and couldn't be stumped by the horn players who'd try to catch him out. When you see his playing on 'Birmingham Bounce' you can see that he was an amazing player. RIP Ray Noren
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Chance Wilson


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jul 2021 12:38 am    
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RIP. I'm pretty sure Ray's Bigsby was the first steel with 4 levers installed around '53.
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