MOUNT PLEASANT, TX (KLTV) -
A country music legend, Ray Price, 87, died Monday after a long battle with cancer, according to family spokesman Bill Mack.
On his Facebook page, Mack wrote, "Ray Price left for heaven at 4:43 p.m. central time. He went in perfect peace. Details later."
Price, dubbed the "Cherokee Cowboy," was best known for his country classics, including Release Me, Crazy Arms and For the Good Times.
Born on Jan. 12, 1926 in Perryville, TX, Price attended North Texas Agricultural College before leaving school to join the Marines in 1942. Returning home in 1946 after World War II, Price went back to college for a short time while performing at local clubs and honky-tonks. Three years later, he decided to make music his full-time career and never looked back.
In 1953, Price formed his band The Cherokee Cowboys. Many talented musicians began their careers with the band, including Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Roger Miller, Johnny Bush and Buddy Emmons.
Price was an advocate for true country music, which he believed was "something for the people."
"It's story songs," he said.
Before he died, Price left a final message for his fans:
"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."
Diagnosed in 2011 with pancreatic cancer, Price underwent aggressive treatment, but the cancer spread to his liver, intestines and lungs. He was in and out of the hospital during the last several months. Price and his wife of 45 years Janie, decided not to pursue any more aggressive treatment.
Price earned numerous accolades throughout his career, including 62 albums that earned Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and Grammy Awards. In 1996, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Cherokee Cowboy performed on the CMA Awards, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Marty Stuart and a variety of other television shows. He performed his last show in May. Price has a new CD coming out and several tribute shows are already being planned to celebrate his career, including one in Nashville on Feb. 12.
Price, who lived in Mount Pleasant, TX, adopted a family each Christmas to make sure they had everything they needed to enjoy the holiday season. An advocate for animals, he rescued hundreds of dogs and other "thrown away" pets.
His wife thanks the fans for all of their love and messages and wanted to let the fans know the best way to send a note is via their Facebook page, or mail a card to:
Ray Price, P.O. Box 1986, Mt. Pleasant, TX 75456.
Price's body is being taken to Restland Funeral Home in Dallas. Funeral arrangements are pending.