Born Elmer Ray Doggett, 6 August 1936, Sweetwater, Texas
Died 16 March 2002, Nashville, Tennessee Singer / guitarist / songwriter / producer. Doggett formed his first band in 1954, Ray Doggett and the Zircons. In 1956 they opened in San Antonio for country crowd-pullers Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton. In August of that year, Doggett cut his first record, his own rockabilly song "Go Go Heart" b/w "Fallin' Tear- drops". It was leased to Spade Records in Houston, a record company founded by country and rockabilly singer Bennie Hess. Unfortunately none of the Spade releases were very successful, because the only distribution company in the area would have been Pappy Daily, with whom Bennie Hess didn't want to cooperate at first.

So he sold his records himself meeting only little response from the DJ's. Then, when finally a contract with Pappy Daily was established it was already too late and Bennie had to shut down the label. In 1958, when Hess started a new label (Pearl), Doggett would return to him. After this first record on Spade, Doggett started to play as a session musician, like on Royce Porter's second record "A Woman Can Make You Blue" b/w "I End Up Crying". Ray's best chance at breaking out came when Spade licensed his second record, "It Hurts The One Who Loves You" to Decca in Nashville, but even this major label could not sell his records in significant quantities.

Ray had more luck with songwriting. Besides his own records, he co-wrote "On My Mind Again" and "Rakin' And Scrapin'" under his pseudonym Elmer Ray. His songwriting partners were Slim Willet (singer and owner of several Texas labels, such as Winston and Edmoral) and Dean Beard, who was also the first to record these songs. Other artists who recorded Doggett compositions were Bob Denton, Mickey Gilley, Ace Ball, Johnny Guidry, Jan Moore, Darrell Rhodes and Bruce Channel. Ray released further singles on Kix, Ken-Lee, TNT, Pearl, and Top Rank, but again he didn't exceed local popularity. Sick of travelling, he decided to concentrate on production work and as such he became a master of "firsts".

In 1958 he wrote Kenny Rogers' inaugural 45 on Carlton (produced by Bennie Hess), then produced B.J. Thomas' first single on Dante in 1961, then in the late '70s he repeated the gesture for country singer George Strait. In recent years, despite battling throat cancer, Ray had successfully developed his own company, Entertainment Success Unlimited, and just prior to his death in 2002 he'd been co-producing newcomer Shaun Avery in tandem with Ray Walker of the Jordanaires.

More info:

LP: Doggone It Doggett, Hydra Records BLK 7709 (1989).

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