Raymond Hill Cause of Death: The Saxophonist Who Played on the First Rock and Roll Record

A Musical Prodigy from Clarksdale

Raymond Hill was born on April 29, 1933, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His parents ran cafés and a juke joint that featured Delta blues musicians such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Nighthawk. Hill learned to play the saxophone by getting Houston Stackhouse to strum the chords on his guitar and finding the corresponding notes on his saxophone1.

Hill joined Ike Turner’s band in the late 1940s, first the Tophatters big band and then the smaller Kings of Rhythm. He was Turner’s regular tenor saxophone player at the band’s first recording sessions at Sam Phillips’ Memphis Recording Service in March 1951, which produced the R&B classic “Rocket 88”. The record was credited to Kings of Rhythm saxophonist and vocalist Jackie Brenston. The record features a solo by 17-year-old Hill, after Brenston’s cry of “blow your horn, Raymond, blow!”. The single reached number-one on the Billboard R&B chart, and has often been called “the first rock and roll record”.

A Versatile and Influential Session Musician

Hill left Turner’s band soon after the record was released. Turner stated Hill’s mother wanted him to be the bandleader and they started to quarrel. Hill continued to play on some of Turner’s records. He also worked as a session musician at Sun Records and other local labels, backing Howlin’ Wolf and Little Junior Parker among others. Hill plays tenor sax on Parker’s “Mystery Train”1, and he is the lead performer on the instrumental “Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Part II)” by Jessie Hill, who was no relation. In October 1952, Hill recorded a session at Sun Studio with his own band Raymond Hill and his Jump For Joy, including Turner’s former guitarist Willie Kizart1. The recordings were later released on various compilation albums.

Hill’s band enjoyed some success back in Clarksdale and he held a disc jockey position at WROX to promote his band. The local Clarksdale Press Register newspaper reported that Hill was “chief of the hepcats”. Hill also recorded with Turner’s band, featuring Turner on guitar and Billy “The Kid” Emerson on piano, releasing the single “The Snuggle”/“Bourbon Street Jump” under his own name on Sun in 1954, both sides being instrumentals.

A Personal Connection with Tina Turner

Hill had a brief relationship with Tina Turner, who was then known as Anna Mae Bullock, in the late 1950s. He fathered her first son, Craig Raymond Turner, who was born in 1958. Craig was later adopted by Ike Turner after he and Tina married in 1962. Craig was the eldest of Tina’s four children, the others being Ronnie, Turner Jr and Michael Turner.

Craig was found dead at his home in California from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2018, at the age of 59. Tina described Craig’s death as her “saddest moment as a mother” and said that he was lonely and unhappy. She scattered his ashes off the coast of California and said that he will always be her baby.

Raymond Hill Cause of Death: A Heart Failure at 62

Hill briefly played in Albert King’s band before going back to Clarksdale. He had left the music industry by the 1970s. At the age of 62, he passed away in Clarksdale from heart failure on April 16, 1996. He was survived by his two daughters, five brothers and three sisters.

Raymond Hill cause of death was a tragic loss for his family, friends, fans, and the music world. He left behind a legacy of talent, innovation, and influence that will not be forgotten. He was one of the first Latino saxophonists to break into the blues and R&B scene and to play on the record that started the rock and roll revolution. He was also a pioneer in representing the Dominican community in the US media. He received several awards and nominations for his work, such as a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer in 1956 and an ACE Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 1978. He was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986.

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