He’s a balladeer, songwriter and a funny guy. If you haven’t met Mr. Raymond Coats you should. He’s fun-loving likes to make you laugh, and he himself is a big supporter of local music. In fact, he plans on “shaking things up” in this music scene.
He loves to sing, and he believes in changing the rules. “Most people don’t want to get into a new career when they get older, I don’t think that should be. I think no matter what age you get into in a career, people should accept it. Because you never know how much impact that you can have on someone that’s younger”.
He knows everybody wants the younger Cats. “Some of the young people are good they can sing. But I want to change the rules. I want people to want the older guys like Arthur Prysock and Joe Johnson, man those guys could sing. They were entertainers, that’s what I want to do. Just entertain people, so when they come to a show they know they’ve been to a show”.
He began his musical venture at the age of 12 singing with an a cappella group. He’s been in and out of the music industry ever since. Raymond comes from a family of 16 children. Four of his sister sing and they have a group currently called The Coats Family Singers, they perform gospel. In 2008 they went to Japan to perform and they are currently performing every second Sunday in the Bay Area.
Raymond is a native San Franciscan, born and raised. Hunters Point, one of the roughest areas in San Francisco. A blues singer that lived only a couple of blocks down in the neighborhood, named Jimmy Reed, helped keep little Raymond out of trouble. He would frequently visit him and he would teach them songs. Mr. Reed unfortunately passed away in 1976.
Music had a great impact on Raymond’s life when he was a young man, getting in and out of trouble. It was his refuge and a savior for him. At one point in his life while in juvenile hall, (he was 14), a counselor from the agency asked him what was he doing locked up. He explained that he had gotten into some trouble so the counselor walked away only to return with four other young men, put them together and had them sing for the superintendent. They saying so well that the superintendent released them and from that experience they received a full scholarship To Capp Street school of music in San Francisco. The five of them sang together famously. About a year later the Temptations were coming to town, and the five of them wanted to go to the show so they snuck in a back window, and set right on the front row and sang right along with the Temptations. Martha Reeves of the Vandellas was looking out over the audience, and called Raymond backstage, and there he stayed for the rest of the show. Even though by now he’s only 15 years old, they welcomed him in to the after party.
During that time they won the majority of the talent shows that they entered until the Whispers came on the scene, (they were not called the Whispers then), after that, “THEY” won a whole the talent shows. But Raymond and his group Right on singing. They were young, it was fun, it was about the girls and the money. But since then Raymond’s focus shifted, it wasn’t about the girls anymore it was about the money. Every chance they could get they were at a show or performing. “When I was 16, we would sneak in every club we could, once we finish performing we would have to stand the kitchen or in the ladies dressing rooms because we were under age”, Raymond explained while reminiscing the good old days. “I remember when we put in $25 apiece and bought us a little Falcon so we could start going everywhere, San Mateo, Palo Alto, and Marin County doing little shows”.
They even opened up for Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone at the Fillmore West and Buddy Miles offered to play the drums for them. Fillmore Slim asked him what song where they going to sing, it was “I Wish It Would Rain” and he joined in along with them that night. That was their first taste of being in a band with music, because they always sang a cappella.
Raymond and the band did a name change. They begin the call themselves The Elegance because the Scarborough’s came out and name themselves The Performers. He met a Cat named Mitt Morel that had a band and wanted Raymond to join and sing lead. He was a little reluctant because all he had done was the bass vocals with The Performers. Raymond tried out and sang for him, Mitt hired him for the group Cordial.. Right after that they opened for the Mills Brothers in Las Vegas. He stayed with the group for 15 years.
By chance, at a football game Raymond the guitar player ran into Bill Withers. They were walking and singing cords the guitar player have been working on. He gave him a card but Raymond did notice who it was until the next day. They were able to make a connection and Raymond and his group performed at Mr. Withers studio for about three weeks free of charge.
To his credit he’s written about 85 songs, but he admits that he knows cords on the piano but he doesn’t write the music. He does play the trumpet and played in Junior High and Was First Trumpet in Senior High until he broke off a finger when he dropped something heavy on it.
Raymond has a love for children, and he loves it when the children are at the show. He’s had little ballerinas come out and dance to his music and is as well as children asking him to teach him to play the piano, and will sit right next to him on the piano bench while he shows them the basics.
In 2010 he fell in a hole and injured his shoulder, his collarbone and had torn ligaments. They were not able to fix his shoulder into 2012, so that left him out of the music for two years. He moved from San Francisco to Fairfield to Rio Vista so that he could heal and had to remain in a body cast. Once he was on the body cast and back on his feet and doing well, he worked hard getting back on track and produced his CD Simply Raymond in 2013.
Upcoming projects for Raymond Coates in 2016 is a new single called “You’ve Got That Groove”, releasing in April. He is an independent artists and packages and releases all his music himself with the exception of this current single, Tate Music Group heard it and purchased it. He loves to sing, he loves to perform, and he loves engaging with people.
He considers himself a seasoned performer and he doesn’t have fans. He has family, he has company.
“When I come to your house I’m your company, so when you come to my house which is the stage, you’re my family”.
Raymond Coats gallery
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