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Services for Darren Ray Are Planned

I couldn’t help but tear up when I heard about the passing of Darren Ray. Likely the hardest working musician in NW Arkansas and certainly one of the most respected. Darren had no enemies, was humble, caring and spoke with a calm, soft voice. His smile was contagious. This was the nicest, most genuine Man I have ever known.

Darren’s family has planned a service to celebrate his life at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, May 15, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville. They ask that in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Darren’s memory to Willard Walker Hospice in Fayetteville, AR. 

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Darren’s website bio tells it all, so I have added it here to share with readers, his fans and his friends who may not know the journey it took to become Darren Ray.

When I give advice to young musicians, one tip is… be like Darren Ray.

Performing music has been the center of Darren Ray’s life for as long as he can remember.

“My Grandma said when I was really little I’d stand behind the living room curtains, then jump out and start singing — right when the vocals came in — to the music on the stereo,” recalls Darren, a life long, full time musician who performs over 250 shows a year.

“I still remember my folks listening to Ray Charles, The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and a variety of different country artists.”

Born in Texas and raised in Northwest Arkansas, Darren joined the choir when he started elementary school and remained a member throughout his school years. Performing madrigals in junior high led to the High School Acapella Choir, which competed in the National Championships and won for two consecutive years under the direction of Don Wright.

Darren competed in every talent show he could enter. When he was in the ninth grade, his dad took him to a pawn shop where they traded his dirt bike for a bass guitar and amp and Darren’s been playing the bass ever since. He played bass in the school orchestra for a year but grew bored with trying to read music…preferring to listen to songs and play them by ear. Instead, he played his bass and sang in a variety of rock bands through-out his teens.

After graduation and playing in several different bands, Darren landed a gig playing bass with The Great Southern Railroad — a southern rock band which had a development deal with Geffen Records and a publishing deal with Almo-Irving Music. Based in Arkansas, The Great Southern Railroad toured all over the south for six years. The band showcased for every major record label, they ultimately split-up in Augusta, Georgia in the early 90’s before ever signing a recording contract.

Darren moved back home to Arkansas where he and a few of the original members of The Great Southern Railroad joined-up with musicians Jeff Cease (Black Crowes) and Doug Huffman (Boston) to form a new band. Taking the name Arkansas, the band performed at concerts with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, the Doobie Brothers and numerous others. When Arkansas called it quits, Darren recorded his first solo CD, Borrowed Time.

“I’ve been playing solo acoustic gigs ever since,” says Darren, who later released a second solo album, Guitar Man. “I also have a three piece band called Big Bad Bubba,” he continues. “We’ve been traveling and performing for over a decade — we also have a CD: Big Bad Bubba Unleashed.”

He has received multiple awards for male vocalist, songwriter, and album of the year from the Ozark Music Awards (OMA) and the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards (NAMA). Darren completed his third solo CD, “Darren Ray 3” in 2007. Saturated with soulful vocals, infectious melodies and genuine lyrics, Darren Ray 3 shines with the seasoned resonance that can only be obtained by years of performing.

Darren’s fourth and latest release is titled “The Acoustic Sessions”. This album is more of a singer/songwriter style with harmony vocals, acoustic guitars, dobro, mandolin, lap steel, a little bit of piano and pedal steel.

Be sure and check out all of Darren’s material. Darren’s CD’s can be purchased at his shows and also online at

Darren has performed with many great talents:

Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Doobie Brothers, Tesla, Marshall Tucker Band, Leon Russell, Ian Moore, Nazareth, Blue Oyster Cult, Paul Rodgers, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger, Foghat, America, Pat Green, Brian White, Steppenwolf, Pat Travers, Chicago, Eddie Money, Little River Band, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Three Dog Night, Foreigner and many others!