Ray McPhilips (1945-2014) blind pianist


Ray McPhillips at the piano in 2013


With sadness we learn of the death of Ray McPhillips, a blind, wheelchair-bound pianist/singer who was a rolling catalog of the American songbook. He was 69.

McPhillips passed away of unreported causes at La Salette nursing home, where he lived for years. His passing was mourned by pianist Gene Hanten, who did paid gigs for the residents of La Salette, but often shared the stage with the talented resident.

“I really admired his abilities,” Hanten said. “He knew the lyrics to so may many songs. I thought he had reasonably good voice quality. He could sing harmony to other singers. He could perform all kind of songs on the piano and and he kinew all about about the composers. I respected him highly.”

Undoubtely McPhillips’ fellow nursing home residents miss him too.When he played you could see their depression lift. Many smiled or sang along, calling out requests or tapping their hands to the time.

The column featuring McPhillips here.


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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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