Early life, family, educational background
American musician, backing vocalist, and the lead guitarist of My Chemical Romance, Raymond Toro-Oritz was born on 15 July 1977, in Kearny, New Jersey USA. Ray has some interesting nicknames, including High Sauce Wizard and Princess Fro Fro. He grew up with his two brothers on the border between Harrison and Kearny, New Jersey. The family is of Puerto Rican-Portuguese heritage; Ray is comic actor Larry Fine’s great-grandson. He was a shy child and spent most of his time with his dog, Boy.
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He attended Kearny High School, the same high school as future bandmates Mikey and Gerard Way, and was already passionate about music by this time.
His older brother inspired him to start playing, as he ‘always [had] a guitar lying around the house’ and was always ‘jamming on it, day and night.’ His brother also introduced him to a number of bands whose guitarists greatly inspired him, including Kirk Hammett from Metallica, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, Slash from Guns N’ Roses, and Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist, Randy Rhoads. Ray began taking guitar lessons along with typing lessons to help improve his manual dexterity. In interviews, he has said that his brother bought him his first guitar, and taught him how to play. The first CD he ever bought was Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell.”
Unfortunately, the family did not live in a very safe neighborhood – it was never a surprise to find drug addicts lurking about or dead bodies behind dumpsters. Because of these potential dangers, Ray’s mother did not want any of the children to go outside alone, so Ray would stay inside, practice his guitar skill, and listen to classic rock and metal albums.
When he was a teenager, Ray was a huge fan of Randy Rhoads as ‘he was one of the first players I can remember who mixed classical music with metal and hard rock style of laying, and he did it so tastefully. It was really inspiring.’ He also began listening to classical guitarists Christopher Parkening and Andrés Segovia – he was fascinated by how they would rearrange classical pieces to be played on a single guitar.
He began joining local bands – one of them was The Rodneys, formed in 1994 and who released their only album in 1998 entitled “Soccertown USA;” Matt Pelissier was a drummer for the band.
Ray matriculated from high school in 1995, and chose film over music. He attended William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, enrolled into a film editing course. While attending university, he drummed for a band called Dead Go West, but they soon broke-up.
In an interview with Rock Sound, he confessed that being in a band was never a dream. What he was passionate about was writing music; he enjoyed the process of writing and recording, and never thought that he could be part of a touring band.
He also spoke to them about his passion for film – ‘I enjoyed getting a bunch of scenes and cutting it together, so it makes sense. I made one short film about a guy who was obsessed with eating eggs every day.’ The main character goes to open the egg carton, and when he finds only one egg left, he is unable to crack it and ends up going insane. Ray stated that he also enjoyed Pete Wentz’s film, “Release the Bats.”
In the late 1990s, frontman of The Rodneys Shawn Dillion, introduced Ray to Gerard Way.
Following 9/11, Gerard approached Ray and asked if he wanted to join a band with himself and Matt Pelissier. He declined at first as he was already drumming with another band, but he finally agreed to join their practice sessions held in Matt’s attic.
My Chemical Romance (MCR) was officially formed after Mikey, Gerard’s younger brother, joined the band as a bass player. Ray became the lead guitarist after Frank Iero joined the band as second guitarist, and sometimes also played the piano, bass and keyboard for the band.
Gerard Way wrote the songs “Turnstiles” and “Skylines” about the 9/11 attacks. They were signed to Eyeball Records before releasing their debut album “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.” They switched over to Reprise Records before releasing “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,” which reached platinum status. In 2006, “The Black Parade” was released and went double platinum.
In 2007, Ray and Frank appeared as themselves in the horror/slasher/comedy film “Punk Rock Holocaust 2.”
Also that year, MCR was the first American rock group to perform at Wembley Stadium in London thanks to fellow rock band, Muse, who were scheduled to tour and perform with MCR in the US between 14 April and 2 May 2007, but the shows from 29 April to 6 May 2007 were canceled after the band and crew members became ill from food poisoning and salmonella. Following the incident, a Virginia chef received numerous death threats, and according to The Sun, both MCR and Muse received them too.
Ray has claimed that he is a ‘music snob,’ especially with new artists, but has praised Muse for their work. He disclosed that he usually listens to the same music he used to listen to when he was younger. He still finds it enjoyable, and continues to discover new meanings or harmonies each time he listens, enabling him to appreciate the songs from a new perspective.
After the band released their third album, Ray was compared to Brian May, guitarist for Queen. From a very early time in his career, he mentioned that Brian is a huge role model for him, as far as his guitar style goes. He spoke about Brian in an interview and said, ‘I just love his work. That guy is capable of everything. He can lay back when he needs to, then writes some of the best leads.’ He he appreciates the comparison, and considers it an honor that he reminds people of Brian or Queen in any way.
Ray led MCR’s #SINGItForJapan project, which raised awareness and money for the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami and earthquake in Japan. Their song “Sing” was mainly arranged by Ray, and he did his best to respectfully add traditional Japanese music elements to the song. On 13 April 2011, “SINGItForJapan” was released, with all proceeds donated to the Red Cross.
In total, MCR released four studio albums, six extended plays, two live albums, 19 singles, 15 music videos, one demo, four video games, and made original appearances in 11 other albums. They were working on their fifth studio album when they decided to split.
Their fourth and last album was released in 2010, entitled “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.” Two years later, they released songs that were originally recorded for a project entitled “Conventional Weapons” in 2009, and in 2014, they released “May Death Never Stop You,” a collection of their greatest hits. In 2016, various cryptic posts were uploaded on to their social media, leading hopeful fans to believe that the band was getting back together; however, the posts were to promote “The Black Parade/Living with Ghosts,” a reissue of “The Black Parade” along with unreleased demos.
On 22 March 2013, the band announced their split, and although upset, they all felt that it was time they parted ways. The following year, Gerard assured fans that the split was in no way anybody’s fault or due to a disagreement – he was interviewed by DJ Zane Lowe on NME and said, ‘I think because it was so special and it was such an amazing thing… to keep going and let it rust out on the rails? That was not the way that band was supposed to go out.’ He added that the decision was difficult to make and very sad because they all still got along, but that people should always be changing things up, and doing new things in order to grow. However, a few years later he was interviewed by The Guardian, and admitted that it was no longer fun making music as a band, ‘I think breaking up the band broke us out of that machine.’
Ray Toro appreciation post.smarturl.it/RockSoundMCR
On 24 May 2013, Ray released a single to his SoundCloud entitled “Isn’t That Something”, tweeting that it was created entirely by himself – ‘I played everything. Sang everything. Recorded everything. Mixed everything. Myself.’ The majority of his solo music is influenced by 1970’s metal blues and hard rock mixed with a Johnny Marr pop sound. He spoke about the influences in “Life On The Murder Scene,” a DVD detailing the making of his music.
In late 2013, he joined James Dewee’s band Reggie and the Full Effect, for their tour, and even contributed to “No Country for Old Musicians,” the album James was working on at the time. The following year he played guitar for “Raised by Bats,” the tenth studio album by Voltaire, a Cuban-American cabaret singer.
On 1 January 2015, he released “For the Lost and Brave” to his website, along with a blog post about a transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn, who sadly committed suicide. In an interview with Kerrang! magazine, he said that the song had an ‘aching synth-rock brimming with [MCR]’s us-against-the-world spirit’ style.
His debut album, “Remember the Laughter” was only released on 18 November 2016, sharing that it was mostly recorded in his home, and he’d begun working on it in 2013. Ray also said that it was his first time writing all of the lyrics and music entirely on his own.
On 31 October 2019, six years after the bands split, they officially announced that they were reuniting (not including their drummer, Bob Bryar, who would be replaced with Jarrod Alexander, who was their touring drummer for some time).
— My Chemical Romance (@MCRofficial) May 1, 2020
Their first show reunited was at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles on 20 December 2019. They also dropped a new merchandise line that night. They announced 2020 and 2021 tour dates for North America, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, but the 2020 dates were postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
During the 2008 MCR break between the albums “The Black Parade” and “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys,” Ray married Christa. Their first son, Remy, was born on 16 November 2012, and their second son in April 2015.
Sadly, Ray’s father passed away in February 2018.
Ray has a dog named Bauer after Jack Bauer from the television series “24.” In the dedication section of “The Black Parade is Dead!” he thanked Bauer and called him his son.
Hobbies, favorite things, and interesting facts
He has received several injuries from performances, including a large gash on his head courtesy of Frank and his guitar, as well as “guitar burn.” In one of their first live concerts captured on tape, Gerard swung his microphone, and it tore Ray’s lip and gave him a bloody nose – Ray had to go to the hospital, and his lip needed seventeen stitches.
He has dark brown eyes and dark brown curly hair, usually styled in an afro. He is 6ft 1in (1.85m) tall and weighs about 160lbs (72kg). He has a tattoo on his left arm that says “SL,” which stands for “stage left,” the position he entered from at MCR concerts. His other tattoo is on his chest, and depicts a scene from a horror film.
Net worth and salary
According to IMBd, Wikipedia, and Forbes, as of 2020, Ray’s net worth is estimated at $38 million. His considerable net worth comes largely from his successful career as a guitarist for MCR.