Entertainer Ray Stevens

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on July 6, 2003

What can you tell me about country music entertainer Ray Stevens? I think he is very talented.
—Rose B., Illinois

While Stevens is best known for comic novelty recordings such as The Streak, which turned a national craze into a hit, the Clarkdale, Ga., native has won two Grammys—the first in 1970 for the inspirational Everything is Beautiful, and the second in 1975 for his country version of the jazz standard Misty. Stevens studied classical piano and music theory at Georgia State University, but his classical career was cut short in 1961 when he recorded his first novelty song, Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green & Purple Pills, He then moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he worked as pianist, arranger, and vocalist before his recording of Ahab the Arab went to Number 5 on the pop charts. While he's recorded all kinds of music, Stevens has no desire to shake the novelty tag. "I think there's probably more longevity in staying with a niche of entertainment," he says.