Ray Griff, one of Canadian Country music’s most prolific and celebrated stars, died, March 9, from aspiration pneumonia following minor rotator cuff surgery. In recent years he had battled throat cancer. He was 75 at the time of his passing.
Born April 22, 1940 in Vancouver, and raised in Winfield, AB, he moved to Nashville as a teenager to pursue a career as a recording artist, but initially found more success with his compositions being recorded by others. Griff did establish himself as a recording artist, charting some 24 songs on the Billboard Country Hit Charts. During his career he released 30 albums on the GRT, Dot, Royal American, ABC Dot, Capitol, Morning, Boot, Warner, ATI, and Bookshop labels in addition to a number of late career CD’s released on his own Focus Records label.
Griff was one of Canada’s most prolific songwriters with over 2500 songs to his credit, some 700 of them recorded by many of Nashville’s top recording stars, including Johnny Duncan, Faron Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Gene Watson, and Mel Tillis. His songs earned him 7 BMI Citations and 47 ASCAP awards.
Griff enjoyed success in the USA and in Canada. His patriotic songs “Canada” and “Maple Leaf” continue as perennial items on radio playlists for Canada Day; he also hosted two Canadian TV series, “Goodtime Country” and “Uptown Country”. He recently hosted the syndicated radio show “Raymond’s Place”.
In addition to his own recordings, Griff has produced numerous albums and singles for Canadian country artists, many of which included his compositions.
Griff is among the few Canadian artists to be honoured with a “star” in Nashville’s “Walkway Of Stars”. He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1998.