Ray Flerlage - Renowned Blues Photography- 1915-2002
Ray Flerlage 1915-2002
Raeburn "Ray" Flerlage passed away on Saturday morning, September 28,
after a brief illness. He was 87.
Flerlage is best known as a photographer of blues performers. He was
most active as a photographer between 1959 and 1972. Working exclusively
in Chicago, he shot many of the top blues, jazz and folk performers of
that era. A book of his images, Chicago Blues As Seen From The Inside,
was published in 2000 and received the 2001 "Keeping the Blues Alive
Award for Achievement in Photography" from the Blues Foundation.
In addition to photography, Flerlage was a writer, lecturer, disc jockey
and record wholesaler. In the forties he served as Midwest Executive
Secretary for People's Songs, a national organization that used folk
music to promote social causes. In that capacity he worked with Pete
Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy and
others. He learned photography at the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago and at the Institute of Design, where he studied with Harry
Flerlage's blues photographs include some of the most famous pictures
ever taken of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Memphis Slim,
Big Joe Williams, James Cotton, Junior Wells and many others. They have
graced numerous books, films, magazines and record jackets. Flerlage was
active until his recent illness, providing images from his vast
collection to producers and editors all over the world.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Flerlage moved to Chicago in 1944. He is
survived by his beloved wife of 36 years, Luise; six children --
daughters Kristin, Karen, Linda and Ty; and sons William and Anthony --
twenty-five grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, three great-great
grandchildren, and by many loving family, friends and associates.
Funeral services were held on Saturday, October 5, at 11:00AM, at
Calahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted St., Chicago.
Obituary provided by Charles K. Cowdery - Chuck is the author of "Blues Legends", a collection of biographies featuring many of Ray's photos.
Ray's autobiograhy, "Chicago Blues- As Seen From the Inside, The Photography of Raeburn Flerlage" can be found here: