A Ray of Light on a Blue Genius

How do you make a movie about a rock-'n'-roll icon who didn't die young? The fables of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Johnny Ace, Eddie Cochran and Sam Cooke provided their own curtain lines: a plane or a car crash, a gunshot wound. Their early deaths at the top of their game built little legends--tragic portraits suitable for filming.

But Ray Charles lived his three score and 10. Which is to say, pop music being a fickle muse, that he outlived the history and heat he made 40 to 50 years ago. In a way, the climax to Charles' story came this...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!