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Don Ray

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Biography

A cult hero among fans of classic Eurodisco, Don Ray (aka Raymond Donnez) enjoyed a short but memorable career as a recording artist and a longer tenure as an arranger, producer, and instrumentalist. Little is known about Raymond Donnez's background, but he is believed to have been born in the early 1950s to French parents living in Germany. Donnez's family later relocated to France, and in the mid-'70s he began working in the French pop music scene, playing keyboards and arranging material for a variety of artists. In 1977, he began working with noted French disco producer Alec R. Costandinos, contributing keyboards and arrangements to his celebrated concept album Romeo & Juliet, performing with his studio group Sphinx, and appearing on several of Costandinos's productions for Cerrone, including the breakthrough hit "Love in C Minor." Around the same time, Donnez started using the stage name Don Ray, and he produced the debut album for the disco group Santa Esmeralda, who scored an international hit with their cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." In 1978, Don Ray briefly stepped into the spotlight and recorded an album under his own name; Garden of Love was a hit in dance clubs, and the track "Got to Have Loving" became a modest mainstream success, eventually rising to 44 on the Billboard singles chart. As disco's mass appeal faded in the early '80s, Don Ray became Raymond Donnez again and continued his career in France, arranging and orchestrating material for a number of leading Gallic acts including Johnny Hallyday, Michel Sardou, and Sylvie Vartan. Donnez also arranged some early French-language sessions for Celine Dion. ~ Mark Deming

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