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Ronnie Milsap Biography

Home > Music > M > Milsap, Ronnie > Biography

Birth Name: Ronnie Lee Milsap
Born: 1943/01/16
Birth Place: Robbinsville, North Carolina, USA
Years Active: 1963-Present
Genres: Country Music, Country Pop, Countrypolitan, Soul

Ronnie Lee Milsap (born January 16, 1943) is an American country music singer and pianist. He was one of country’s most popular and influential performers of the 1970s and 1980s. He became country music's first well-known blind singer, and one of the most successful and versatile country "crossover" singers of his time, appealing to both country and pop music music markets with successful songs that incorporated popular, R&B, and rock and roll stylings.

Milsap was born in Robbinsville, North Carolina with a congenital disorder that left him almost completely blind. During his childhood he lost his remaining vision. Due to a developing blood clot, both his eyes were removed.

During the early 1960s he auditioned for and played his first professional gigs as a member of J. J. Cale’s band. He released his first single, "Total Disaster," during 1963 which enjoyed some local success in the Atlanta area.

By 1965, Milsap was an R&B artist for the recording company Scepter, recording eight obscure singles for the label and working briefly with other soul musicians like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown.

Milsap was a Top 5 success on the R&B charts with "Never Had It So Good," a song written by Ashford & Simpson. It would be his only successful single during his time with Scepter. Another Ashford & Simpson tune named "Let’s Go Get Stoned," was relegated to a B-side. A few months later, however, it became a million-selling single for Ray Charles.

In 1970 Milsap enjoyed brief popular music success with the song "Loving You Is a Natural Thing." He recorded and released his debut album, “Ronnie Milsap,” on Warner Brothers during 1971.

In December 1972, Milsap relocated to Nashville after a chance meeting with country music star Charley Pride who was in the audience for a Milsap gig at the nightclub Whiskey A-Go-Go. Pride was impressed with Milsap's singing and encouraged him to go to Nashville and start singing country music.

Milsap began working with Pride's manager, Jack D. Johnson, and was signed to RCA Records in 1973. He released his first single from RCA that year named "I Hate You," which became his first country music success, peaking at #10 on the country chart.

The next year, 1974, he toured with Pride as an opening act and had two number one singles, "Pure Love" and the Kris Kristofferson composition "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" which won Milsap his first Grammy Award. During 1975, he revived the Don Gibson song "(I'd Be) A Legend in My Time." That year, he scored another #1 success with "Daydreams About Night Things."

From 1976 to 1978, Milsap became one of country music's biggest stars. He scored seven #1 singles in a row, including the Grammy Award winning "(I'm a) Stand By My Woman Man" and "What a Difference You've Made in My Life." The most significant of this series was "It Was Almost Like a Song" during 1977, a dramatic piano-based song that showcased Milsap's soaring vocal range and became his most successful single of the 1970s. In addition to topping the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the song was his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart since "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" reached #95 while "It Was Almost Like a Song," reached #16. It was also his first song to score the Adult Contemporary Charts, peaking at #2. Despite its success, the song was Milsap's only crossover success of the 1970s. Milsap continued to achieve successes on the country music charts for the remainder of the 1970s.

During 1979, Milsap had a #1 song, a Top 5 song and a Top 10 song. Then during 1980, he added pop and rock n' roll music elements to his style. From then and until 1983, he scored a series of eleven #1 songs.

Milsap's Greatest Hits album was released during 1980 and included a new single, "Smoky Mountain Rain." The next year, the single peaked in the Top 40 on the pop music chart. It also became the first of two Milsap songs to score #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Other crossover successes included the Top 5 popular music song "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" and the Top 20 songs "I Wouldn't Have Missed It For the World" and "Any Day Now." He also had some success with "He Got You". All four songs went to #1 on the country music charts.

Although the series of #1 hits ended in 1983, the last song of the series, "Stranger in My House," was still successful on all three charts, peaking at #5 on the country music chart, #23 on the pop music chart, and #8 on the Adult Contemporary charts. Just a few months later, "Don't You Know How Much I Love You" was released. It was this song that would be Milsap's last significant entry of the popular music chart, reaching #58. However, it along with other songs still became major successes on the Adult Contemporary chart. These successful singles include "Show Her," "Still Losing You," and finally, the Grammy Award winning song "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" (his last crossover success) during 1985.

Between 1985 and 1987, Milsap enjoyed a string of uninterrupted country music #1 songs, enjoying his greatest success at this time, including "She Keeps the Home Fires Burning," "In Love," "Snap Your Fingers,” and "Where Do the Nights Go.”

During 1989, Milsap had his last #1 song with "A Woman in Love," although he still remained successful on the charts. Other Top 10 hits between 1989 and 1990 include "Turn The Radio On" and "Houston Solution." During 1992, he had his last major success, "All Is Fair In Love and War." The song peaked at #11, just missing the Top 10.

Milsap has remained one of country music's best-loved and most successful artists despite the lack of radio airplay in the last decade. During 1993, he left RCA company for Liberty and released the album "True Believer" which failed to achieve significant radio airplay, although the title track song scored #30 on the country charts. During 2000, Milsap vended a two-CD set "40 #1 Hits" featuring a new single named "Time, Love, and Money". The new collection scored "gold" although the single failed to score on the charts.

During 2004, Milsap worked with producer Jerry F. Sharell to record his first non-country album since the early 1970s, titled "Just for a Thrill." The project was a collection of American popular/jazz music standards which earned Milsap a Grammy Award nomination that year. During 2006, Milsap signed with his former company RCA and returned to a mainstream, contemporary country music style with the album "My Life." The first song was "Local Girls" which peaked at #54.

During 2009, Milsap released a two-disc set entitled “Then Sings My Soul” which featured 24 hymns and gospel songs, including "Up To Zion." "Up To Zion" was co-written by Gregory James Tornquist and Noreen Crayton and became a #1 hit on the southern gospel charts.

Milsap has remained as one of country music's most popular concert performers and continues to tour regularly for his many fans across the country.