Oliver Ray thinks Tucson is the greatest city in the United States. He grew up in New York City and moved here with his daughter, Olivia, in 2008. He joined Patti Smith's band in 1995 and wrote songs with her until moving to Guatemala in 2005. He opened Café Aqui on South Sixth Avenue in 2010 and has a band called Saint Maybe.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
My father took me to see Madonna's Like a Virgin show at Radio City Music Hall, 1985; the Beastie Boys were the openers!
What are you listening to these days?
Dead Skeletons; Kidz Bop 17; Patti Smith's new one, Banga; the Grateful Dead.
What was the first album you owned?
My folks had a small collection of LPs. I randomly chose the Beatles' "White Album." It was pretty awe-inspiring, almost scary. ... But the first album I bought ... was Gene Simmons' 1978 solo record.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?
Prog-folk (Fleet Foxes, etc.), and Willie Nelson (but I just got a ticket for my girlfriend to go see him at the Fox).
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
Neanderthals playing flutes made from the wing bones of swans; the Sermon on the Mount; Bach playing violin; Charley Patton on his knees playing an old Stella behind his head in a juke joint.
Musically speaking, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Brian Lopez and Yanni.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"Dark Star" (by the Grateful Dead) into "Birdland" (by Patti Smith).
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
The Doors. I read No One Here Gets Out Alive when I was 12 and became totally obsessed with Jim Morrison and his band. ... Their fusion of dark poetry and rock 'n' roll saved me from doing what I was supposed to do.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
L.A. Woman is a great record. But, then so is the soundtrack to Paris, Texas ...