Originating way back in the 1920s, American country music witnessed its peak during the 60s and 70s, making it a sensation amongst the young and aged both. Since then, the genre has entered the hearts of people beyond American borders, and across numerous countries around the world.
John Denver, Charley Pride and Tammy Wynette are a few well-recognized names of the 70s and 80s when it comes to country music. Why is all this relevant?
You guessed it. Ronnie Milsap is one of the most popular country music artists of that time. He is much known for his versatility and soaring success in the particular genre. Winning multiple Grammy awards and touching the souls of his listeners, Ronnie was astonishingly born almost blind.
Read on to know the interesting bits.
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Who Ronnie Milsap Really is?
Ronnie was famously identified as a country cross-over singer, delivering hit songs throughout the zenith of his career. To give you an overview, a cross-over artist/singer is usually someone who is able to merge several styles of music in their work, receiving notable response from the crowds.
Making it to the top of the billboard charts was his ‘game’ and his music included fragments of various genres such as R&B, rock and roll, pop and additional styles that form a blend of others. Since his childhood years, Ronnie Milsap experienced a growing interest in music.
When other kids were caught up playing, Ronnie was busy finding his way into local clubs. More on this below!
His Early Life
Ronnie was born on the 16th of January, 1943. His birthplace was in the United States, particularly in Robbinsville, North Carolina. Due to a congenital disorder, he was almost blind from birth, but that didn’t stop him from hitting big milestones in the world of music.
He was a brilliant child, raised by his grandparents in poverty till the age of 5. A passion for music led one of his music instructors to recognizing his talents at the age of 7. Mastering the piano came easily to him after commencing his studies in formal classical music at the Governor Morehead. Sadly, at the age of 14, he had lost the remainder of his vision in his left eye after being slapped by one of his school’s houseparents.
In addition, he had also learned several instruments and incorporated their sounds in his musical career later on.
Ronnie didn’t really consider a full-time career as a musician during his early years. Rather, he had planned his career trajectory towards becoming a lawyer, obtaining a full scholarship at Young Harris College. Alongside his focus on the subject, he began playing gigs in Atlanta by joining a local R&B band called the Dimensions.
After the band gained popularity in a local club, Ronnie thought of putting his talents to better use. In 1964, Milsap declined his law scholarship, left college, and embarked on his journey in becoming a full-time musician.
Ronnie’s mother thought that his blindness was a punishment from God. Born blind, he was known to be shunned by his mother and that was when his grandparents agreed to take care of him till his life began in music.
Getting To The Point: Is Ronnie Milsap Dead Or Alive?
We’re lucky to have this living legend with us to this day. He is certainly alive and breathing, indulged in music, swaying crowds with evergreen hits from his albums. One might ask, ‘how old is Ronnie Milsap now?’ The answer is 79, but it’s difficult to make that guess when you see how he rocks that sparkling smile and pulls off his groovy shades!
His Career and Net Worth
Ronnie Milsap has a net worth of $14 million. He has released a total of 28 studio albums and a self-titled debut in 1971. His first number one album called “There’s no Gettin’ Over Me” was released in 1981. During this time, he also recorded the ballad “Smoky Mountain Rain” and it soared towards the top tier of pop charts. In 1985, he hit US Country Charts with “Lost in the 50s tonight”. Afterwards, he sent out a long list of singles that have seen considerable popularity.
You probably remember us telling you that he was a successful crossover country singer. This is reflected by the six Grammy awards that he was credited with and 35 hits that made country music even more pleasing to the ears of a growing audience!
Going back in time to the beginning of his career, Ray Charles had told Ronnie when he was still in law school that he could hear the music inside him. This worked as great motivation for him. While he was doing sessions in Atlanta, the word got around that JJ Cale needed someone on the keys. Ronnie got in touch with Cale and soon he was playing the keyboard with him at the Whiskey.
The first single that Milsap had recorded was called “Total Disaster/It Went to Your Head” and this was in 1963. 15000 copies were sold thanks to Pat Hughes who had supported Ronnie during his early years. The first hit actually came out in 1965 when Ronnie had signed an agreement with Scepter Records, leading to a series of singles in the coming years.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Ronnie was immensely popular. One might mistakenly think he stopped releasing new tracks after that but he didn’t. He remade rock & roll chestnuts in the mid 80s and in the 90s, he reached the Billboard Country Top Ten four more times. Ronnie has seen hit after hit and in 2006, he created a comeback album called “My Life”. He kept on releasing songs after that and in April 2021, released his album, “A Better Word for Love”.
Personal life of Ronnie Milsap: Marriage and Children
Women have asked, “Is Ronnie Milsap married?” The answer’s no but he was and he was happy with his marriage too. Ronnie Milsap’s wife, Joyce Milsap had passed away at the age of 81, battling leukemia. They met at a dinner party during the 60s and said their wedding vows in 1965. They were blessed with a son named Todd Milsap. Unfortunately, Todd had also passed away in 2019 due to a medical condition.
The two had a beautiful marriage and were head-over-heels for one another. Ronnie was noted saying that Joyce was the love of his life. He had lovingly called her ‘my sapphire’. Ronnie’s affection was seen to be reciprocated by Joyce when she said that she is amazed to see the man’s inner fortitude, accomplishments and determination.
Ronnie and Joyce had supported each other to the core, going strong through thick and thin.
What is Ronnie Milsap Doing Now?
Now that we’ve covered the essentials we thought you sought, you’d be glad to know that the rocking musician is currently touring across a country in 2022.
He has five upcoming concerts, and the next one is on September 8! The tour is destined to end in December in Las Vegas.
If you head over to his website, you’ll find podcasts, his discography and several collectibles that fans can proudly own. The podcasts are worth listening to right after you soothe your ears with his hits. To experience the feeling of being in the same room as him, you could watch his interview with WBTV.
Ronnie Milsap is a living legend. He has released over 50 albums and began his journey in music ever since childhood. Some people just have it in them and Ronnie is the perfect example of that. He proves to the world how far passion can take you. Even at this age, he still tours, hangs out with his buddies and spends each day like a showstopper that he is!