Born March 16, 1960, Lil Ray (Raful Neal III) the third eldest of ten siblings, has long been regarded as one of the finest blues guitarists in the business. Raised in Ervinville, Louisiana, he started playing at Spooner's, a country store/club owned by his grandfather when he was about 12 years old. His father played at that store with his band and during the break he would let Ray and his brothers get up to play.
Ray learned much with the likes of Buddy Guy and Harpo Slim hanging around but it was two of his school teachers that gave him the incentive to want to hone his craft as a guitar player. In the days leading up to summer break he would take his guitar to school and persuade Mr. Ronald Young and Mr. Edward Yearby to play. "Both were hell of a guitar players and I learned from just listening..you really didn't want to play, you just wanted to listen", Lil Ray recalls.
In 1976 the Neal family moved to Baton Rouge and within a few years Ray was playing regularly with his father. In 1980 his brother Kenny asked him and his brothers to join him in Toronto, Canada. Ray continued to play with Kenny in Canada until his visa ran out and he went back to Baton Rouge...but not for long.
Little Milton offered Ray a job with his band and it was back on the road. He'll be the first to admit that life on the road was hard but the valuable lessons he learned are still with him today. Ray is grateful that he had the opportunity to play with some of the greatest musicians that have ever took the stage.