|Birth name||Raymond Allan Draper|
|Born||August 3, 1940|
|Origin||New York City|
|Died||November 1, 1982(aged 42)|
|Years active||1950s to death|
Draper attended the Manhattan School of Music in the mid-1950s. As a leader, he recorded his first album, Tuba Sounds (Prestige Records 1957), at the age of 16, with a quintet. His second album was recorded at the age of 17 with slight changes in his quintet, including John Coltrane.
After his release from prison in the late sixties due to drug use, Draper formed the first jazz rock fusion band composed of established jazz musicians of the day. This preceded Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, which is normally recognized as the first jazz rock fusion group and recording by two years. Original band members included George Bohannon on trombone, Hadley Caliman on tenor sax, John Duke on upright bass, Paul Lagos on drums and Tom Trujillo on guitar. This band, after its first live performance at Hollywood's Whisky a Go Go-where it shared the bill with Nazz-was offered numerous record deals and booked solid at rock venues for the rest of the year.
Ray Draper began using heroin again, whereupon the more experienced band members quit, except for the youngest member, guitarist Tom Trujillo and his landlord, Chuck Goodn. This led to a search for new members and hirings that included New York trumpeter Don Sleet and Ernie Watts. After two years of searching and many personnel changes, including getting clean from drugs, Draper brought drummer Paul Lagos back, along with saxophonist Richard Aplan, trumpeter Phil Wood, and bassist Ron Johnson. This new group was eventually named Red Beans and Rice, named after their favorite meal cooked by Ray's wife, Sandy. This group appeared on bills with some of the day's headlining groups including Jimi Hendrix, Chicago Transit Authority, Jethro Tull, and Gil Scott Heron.
They went on to record the album produced by Jackie Paris titled Red Beans and Rice Featuring Sparerib Ray Draper on Epic Records. But when the band saw that Draper and his manager Forrest Hamilton had put only Ray's picture on the cover, the whole group quit and Draper was on his own once more. After this, he got hooked back on heroin and he sporadically performed and recorded but he was no longer able to recreate the band sound with other players. He left California and returned to New York in the hopes of becoming clean once again. He remarried and had two children with his second wife, Anne, continuing to compose for other musicians.
In 1982, coming out of a bank, Ray was held up by a gang of kids. The 13-year-old leader shot him after Ray had given him his money. Ray had been clean of drug use and had been working on a composition, found in his attaché case upon his death.
- 1957: Tuba Sounds (Prestige)
- 1957: The Ray Draper Quintet featuring John Coltrane (Prestige/New Jazz)
- 1958: A Tuba Jazz (Jubilee), reissued as John Coltrane album, Like Sonny (Roullette, 1990)
- 1968: Red Beans and Rice (Epic)
With Sonny Criss
- Sonny's Dream (Birth of the New Cool) (Prestige, 1968)
With Brother Jack McDuff
- Who Knows What Tomorrow's Gonna Bring? (Blue Note, 1970)
With Jackie McLean
- Strange Blues (Prestige, 1957)
With Max Roach
- Max Roach + 4 at Newport (EmArcy, 1958)
- Deeds, Not Words (Riverside, 1958)
- Award-Winning Drummer (Time, 1958)
With Archie Shepp
- There's a Trumpet in My Soul (Arista Freedom, 1975)
With Dr. John
- The Sun, Moon & Herbs (Atlantic, 1971)