Robert Cray (born August 1, 1953, Columbus, Georgia, United States) is an American blues guitarist and singer. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he has led his own band, as well as an acclaimed solo career.
Cray started playing guitar in his early teens. At Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia, his love of blues and soul music flourished as he started collecting records. Originally, he wanted to become an architect, but around the same time he began to study architectural design, he formed a local band "Steakface ", described as "the best band from Lakewood you never heard of". Cray's guitar and vocals contributed greatly to Steakface's set list of songs by Jimi Hendrix, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Fleetwood Mac, The Grease Band, Blodwyn Pig, Jethro Tull, Spirit and The Faces.
By the age of twenty, Cray had seen his heroes Albert Collins, Freddie King and Muddy Waters in concert and decided to form his own band; they began playing college towns on the West Coast. After several years of regional success, Cray was signed to Mercury Records in 1982. His third album release, Strong Persuader, produced by Dennis Walker, received a Grammy Award, while the crossover single "Smokin' Gun" gave him wider appeal and name recognition.
By now, Cray was an opening act for such major stars as Eric Clapton (who remains a friend to this day), and sold out larger venues as a solo artist. Cray has generally played Fender guitars (Telecasters and Stratocasters) and there are two signature Robert Cray Stratocasters models available from Fender. The Robert Cray Custom Shop Stratocaster is made in the U.S. in the Fender custom shop and is identical to the guitars that Cray currently plays, while the Robert Cray Standard Stratocaster is a less-expensive model made in Fender's Ensenada, Mexico plant.
Cray had the opportunity to play alongside John Lee Hooker on his album Boom Boom, playing the guitar solo in the song "Same Old Blues Again". He is also featured on the Hooker album, The Healer; he plays a guitar solo on the song "Baby Lee".
Cray was invited to play at the "Guitar Legends" concerts in Seville, Spain at the 1992 Expo, where he played a signature track, "Phone Booth". Albert Collins was also on the bill on this blues night of the "Legends" gigs.
Cray continues to record and tour. He appeared at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, and supported Eric Clapton on his 2006-2007 world tour. In Fargo, North Dakota, he joined Clapton on backup guitar for the Cream song "Crossroads". In 2011, Cray was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame.
In the film Animal House, Cray is the uncredited bassist in the house party band Otis Day and the Knights.
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