Ray Charles went to the top of the charts five times in the 1950’s with another eight songs going to the Top Five, but all of that took place on the R&B chart. Had Ray Charles not recorded anything other than those thirteen songs, he would have a legacy that already puts him ahead of half of the people in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he did record quite extensively in the 1960’s, and by this time mainstream America was ready for him.
Charles finally hit the Top Ten on the Hot 100 with “What’d I Say” in 1959 when it went to number 6, but it was an ode to his home state and a shift to the ABC label that got him to the top the following year.
Ray didn’t write “Georgia on My Mind” (it was written in 1930) but undoubtedly it was his version that set an irreplaceable mold. Granted more creative freedom on his new label, Charles took his roots soul and jazz and placed it in what he made a traditional pop standard and a song that would become a celebration of the state of Georgia, so much so that it would eventually become the state song. Over the next few years, Charles would become a bigger star than ever and would do so without alienating his core audience. “Georgia on My Mind” would be his first of his three top Hot 100 hits and though it would not reach the top of the R&B list, he had a lot more coming that would reach that chart’s apex too.
Now with all of this being said, let’s hope that Charles’ original version was not replaced by the image of him playing that in final season opening credits of Designing Women, a show that by that time got so bad it was just as well he couldn’t have watched it.
Other Notable Songs that charted but did not go to number one in this time period: November 14, 1960 – November 20, 1960.
11/14/60: A Fool in Love by Little Willie John went to #14 but also went to #10 on the R&B Chart.
11/14/60: Peter Gunn by Duane Eddy hit #27.
 Yeah, I know. A Ray Charles blind joke is going to the lowest common denominator but if the expanding waistline of Delta Burke was still on the show by that season I would have went there instead.