Harold Ray Ragsdale (born January 24, 1939) known professionally as Ray Stevens, is an American country and pop singer-songwriter and comedian, known for his Grammy-winning recordings "Everything Is Beautiful" and "Misty", as well as comedic hits such as "Gitarzan" and "The Streak". He has worked as a producer, music arranger, songwriter, television host, and solo artist; been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and the Christian Music Hall of Fame; and received Gold Albums for his music sales.
Capitol Records' Prep Records division in 1957, and produced the singles "Silver Bracelet" and a cover of "Rang Tang Ding Dong", which met with a positive review from Billboard. The latter was originally recorded by doo-wop group The Cellos in 1957.
In 1958, Bill Lowery created the National Recording Corporation (NRC), and hired Stevens to play numerous instruments, arrange music, and perform background vocals for its band.
Stevens signed with Mercury Records in 1961.With Mercury, he had several hits including "Harry the Hairy Ape," "Funny Man," the original recording of "Santa Claus Is Watching You," "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills," and "Ahab the Arab." "Ahab the Arab" reached no. 5 on the Hot 100 in 1962.
In 1966 Stevens signed with Monument Records and started to release serious material such as "Mr. Businessman" in 1968, a Top 30 pop hit; "Have a Little Talk With Myself" and the original version of "Sunday Morning Coming Down" in 1969, which became Stevens's first two singles to reach the country music charts. O.C. Smith covered the Stevens-penned "Isn't It Lonely Together", and Sammy Davis, Jr. covered "Have a Little Talk With Myself." Stevens continued to release comedic songs, and in 1969 he had a Top 10 pop hit with "Gitarzan." Stevens also became a regular on The Andy Williams Show during 1969–1970, and hosted his own show, The Ray Stevens Show, in 1970. In Australia, Ross D. Wylie reached the top 20 with his cover of Stevens' Funny Man. Stevens' collection of Hot 100 hits is evenly divided between serious and comedy.
As an A&R man, producer, writer, and arranger, Stevens assisted many artists at Mercury Records and Monument Records, 1961 through early 1970, including Ronnie Dove, Brenda Lee, Brook Benton, Patti Page, Joe Dowell, Dusty Springfield, and Dolly Parton. "My True Confession," a Top-10 on the R&B chart in 1963 for Brook Benton, was written by Stevens and Margie Singleton. Stevens was the arranger for the Doyle Holly recording of "My Heart Cries For You," which had been recorded previously by Stevens during the late 1950s on the NRC label.
In 1973, Stevens had a top 40 country hit with the title track of his album Nashville, and performed on a variety of prime-time TV programs. In 1974, Stevens recorded perhaps his most famous hit, "The Streak," which poked fun at the early-1970s fad of running nude in public, known as "streaking." It became number one in both the UK and the US and No. 3 on the country chart. In 1975, he released the Grammy-winning "Misty," which became his biggest country hit (#3 US country, #14 US pop chart, #2 UK Singles Chart). He also entered the country Top 40 with a doo-wop version of "Indian Love Call," "Everybody Needs a Rainbow," and a ballad version of "Young Lo.
In this song, it talks about the person played by Ray Stevens who would make amorous phone calls from a ratty phone booth on the outskirts of town. Ray Stevens also plays the desk sergeant who narrates the story.