MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Folks-blues legend Dave (Snaker) Ray died Thursday after battling lung cancer. He was 59.
Ray died at home after being in a coma for a day or two, said his longtime band partner, "Spider" John Koerner.
"I'll remember him mostly as being a continuation of the old days," said Koerner, who saw Ray the night before he died. "He had a certain approach to the blues music he was doing. It influenced me. Influenced a lot of people."
Ray, Koerner and harmonica player Tony Glover formed the pioneering acoustic trio Koerner, Ray & Glover in 1962 and that year released the landmark "Blues, Rags and Hollers" album.
The upbeat, folk-tinged blues record gained widespread praise from the likes of John Lennon and The Doors. Koerner, Ray & Glover recorded several albums and performed at folk festivals around the country before parting ways in the late 1960s.
Ray went on to engineer Bonnie Raitt's first album and carved out a cultish solo career. In recent years, he reunited with Koerner and Glover and the trio won the 2000 and 2001 Folk Group of the Year from the Minnesota Music Academy. Their last performance together was Nov. 23 in Princeton, N.J.
"It felt really right that the last gig he played was with me and John, 41 years later," Glover said Thursday.
Glover said Ray's condition had been rapidly deteriorating and he needed help walking. Ray was scheduled to perform Friday night in St. Peter.
"Up to a week ago, he was playing like crazy, which was incredible," said Gary Campbell, music coordinator at the St. Peter Arts Center, where Ray was to perform Friday night with R&B guitarist Curtis Obeda.
"The guy performed great right up to the end," he said.
Ray was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma in May. The cancerous masses started in his lungs and had spread to other parts of his body. He published updates on his condition on his Web site, detailing the spread of the cancer and the growth of tumors.
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