Singer Ray Price passed away Monday at his Texas home, having long outlasted most of his country music contemporaries at the age of 87.
Price also outlived the prognosis he was given when doctors discovered his pancreatic cancer in 2011. The star stopped treatments last Thursday.
The way the Country Music Hall of Fame member fought cancer was an apt metaphor for the way he lived his life, always fiercely charting his own path.
Good friends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard got more credit for their contrary ways and trend-setting ideas, but it was Ray Price who set the precedent.
He changed the sound of country music, collaborated with and inspired the genre's biggest stars and remained relevant for more than half a century.
Ray Benson of the country music group Asleep at the Wheel said:
"Ray Price was a giant in Texas and country western music."
"Besides one of the greatest voices that ever sang a note, Ray's career spanned over 65 years in a business where 25 years would be amazing."
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum historian Michael McCall said Price "was one of his generation's most important musical innovators."
Popularizing the bedrock 4/4 shuffle beat that can still be heard on every honky-tonk jukebox and most country radio stations, he had over 100 hits.
His wife Janie Pric relayed what she called her husband's "final message" last week: "I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them."
"I appreciate their support all these years, and I hope I haven't let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I'm going to be just fine. Don't worry about me. I'll see you again one day."