Recently Ray was interviewed by The New York Daily News about his tattoo that he commissioned upon hearing the news of Prince’s death Thursday April 21st. We thought we could sit down and ask him about the tattoo and what impact Prince had on his own unique music style and career.
How did you hear about Prince’s death?
I was listening to a local radio station when the DJ (Amy Heart) broke the news. Shocked, I immediately took to the internet in order to research the story for myself. I was in absolute disbelief, not because I doubted 100.9 The Eagle, but because I just couldn’t believe he was gone and had to find out for myself.
Did you immediately decide to get the tattoo?
At first I was just heartbroken, I mean he was only 57, 57! I had been reading about him having to cancel a show due to the flu but had also read that he had bounced back and was fine. I just couldn’t believe he was gone. The idea for the tattoo came after I gathered myself and I thought it would make a great tribute as well as an outward expression of my love for him, his life and artistry.
That’s when you got the tattoo?
I posted on Facebook what I was wanting and tagged Justin Spencer from Electric Baboon who does all of my work. He had me in and wrapped up before 5PM.
You must have been a big fan to decide to get his symbol (The Love Symbol) and his eye permanently tattooed on your body.
I have always loved Prince since I first heard him in 1982. I remember watching the music video “Little Red Corvette” and that drove me to get the album “1999.” The song “1999” was my my favorite songs to dance around in my bedroom to, but “Automatic” blew my mind! The sexual undertones were exotic and an absolute turn on. I thought he was the coolest musician since Michael Jackson but it was his ability to be manly, sexual yet had this look about him that reminded me of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. I wanted to be like him, I wanted to have the same motorcycle he rode in the movie “Purple Rain” with a beautiful girl like Apollonia Kotero on the back. Prince was always a bad ass! A brilliant, sexual, manly bad ass!
How has Prince influenced your music?
You know, he influenced me as a person before he influenced me musically. You see I was a big fan the Pop stars of the early 80’s but I lived in a small West Texas town that punished me for my taste in music and my fanship?
Punished? How so?
I was literally beaten up regularly, had my clothes ripped nearly off my body several times, I was smashed in the back of my head till my eyes rolled up in the back of my head as I was falling down and once had my hair nearly cut off by scissors. All of this because I was a fan of musicians like Michael Jackson, Prince, Lionel Richie and James Brown. Homophobia and racism ran rampant in that little town. Look, I was also picked on because I was different, poor, scrawny and an easy target (I kinda get that part) but I never understood why these kids did what they did because those little assholes would go home after school and listen to the exact same artists and songs and watch the exact same music videos that I did. It made zero sense to me. I’ll never forget when my mom bought me a jacket that looked like Michael Jackson’s leather jacket from “Thriller” I was so happy and excited. My mom was a single parent working as a nurse and there were many times when we couldn’t even afford jeans that would fit me right (we bought thrift store clothes before it was hip) much less this cool new pleather jacket. I wore it to school once and the kids nearly ripped it off of me, kicked my ass and told me they would kill me if I ever wore that faggot jacket to school again. This is the kind of thing I put up with on a daily basis.
This wasn’t the first time that I had been bullied and to be honest, the bullies in New Mexico were better at it than those cowboys and jocks here in Texas and it all lead me to make some very important decisions regarding race and sexual orientation. It made me realize that there is a subculture of hate and violence and it’s directed at people of color, people with low income, and anyone who challenges sexual status quo. I have made the decision so many times in my life (due to life events like these) to never imitate that type of hatred and bigotry, so ultiamtley I'm grateful for the pain I went through because many of those same bullies pop up in my Facebook feed from time to time and they post the same type of bigotry and ignorance that they bullied me with in the 80s. I've grown, they haven't. I saw an internet meme recently that said something like “Prince is the only guy in high heels and a blouse that can steal your woman.” I wish I had said that back in the 80s.
Is that how Prince influenced you as an artist?
He influenced me as human being, as a man, as a songwriter and as a musician and I will always miss him and appreciate his talent and ultimately his light in this world.