ROCKING RAY: Bass player Ray Norman feels forever young thanks to his love of music.
ROCKING RAY: Bass player Ray Norman feels forever young thanks to his love of music. Allan Reinikka ROK140619abass1

76-year-old Ray has the secret to being healthy in old age

RAY Norman isn't exactly who you'd imagine would be playing bass for a rock and roll band called Slingshot, but the stereotype doesn't stop the 76-year-old from performing until 2am.

Once a month the Gracemere guitar man plays at pubs across the region alongside band members at least three decades his junior and a 16-year-old drummer.

While on paper the band members are significantly separated by age, Ray said mentally he was on the same page.

 

Ray Norman has played bass guitar for six decades.
Ray Norman playing guitar in a band with Ronald McDonald. -

"I'm a young 76-year-old," Ray said.

"People always ask if I'm the manager and I say 'no I'm the bass player'."

He credited a lifetime of music for his abilities and health.

"Music keeps you young, it keeps alzheimer's and dementia away," he said.

"They should put music in the medical journey because it keeps the brain active."

 

Ray Norman has played bass guitar for six decades.
Ray Norman has played bass guitar for six decades. -

Ray was an "ordinary" guitarist until "some guy knocked on the door (at band practice) and said, 'can you play bass'?" when he was 14 and the rest is history.

"It's the engine of the band," Ray said.

"Your entire body has got to be one with the guitar.

"The vibration of the bass hits you in the back and woah it sounds good."

The South African national began his musical journey on the other side of the world - one of his most memorable gigs is opening the Holiday Inn in Cape Town.

 

Bass player Ray Norman.
Bass player Ray Norman. Allan Reinikka ROK140619abass4

He said American rhythm and blues group The Drifters attended the opening night and tried to convince him to travel back to the US with them.

His musical talent has also taken him to the high seas.

In the late 1970s he performed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt ship for 3000 crew who were unable to come ashore due to political pressure.

"A day I shall always remember," he said.

His performances have earned him recognition across the world.

In 1978, he was awarded the best bass player at the Battle of the Bands by South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard who performed the first ever heart transplant where the patient regained consciousness.

 

Bass player Ray Norman.
Bass player Ray Norman. Allan Reinikka ROK140619abass3

He said he was also named as the oldest bass player in New Zealand and has won seven awards.

After performing for six decades, Ray claims he is the oldest bass player in Queensland and possibly Australia and from the front row, his 72-year-old wife Angie could be Australia's oldest roadie.

The pair might have a 22-year-old grandson, but that doesn't stop them from partying like they are in their 20s.

The 76-year-old's next gig will be at the Commercial Hotel in Biloela on Friday, June 28.