If not for a Midwestern dance gig that ran late, the world might have been forever deprived of Ray Charles' immortal "What'd I Say." Stuck for material at the end of a long evening, the incomparable Brother Ray began to improvise -- a jazzy electric piano fill here, a steamy call-and-response retort between Charles and his captivating Raeletts there -- and before the show was through, the genius had brainstormed one of his biggest sellers of all right there on the bandstand. Subsequently captured February 18, 1959, in a New York studio by Atlantic Records engineer Tom Dowd in brilliant stereo, "What'd I Say" ran so long at nearly six-and-a-half minutes that it had to be split on both sides of an Atlantic 45 for mass consumption. It was one of the most suggestive pieces ever aired on pop radio up to that time, the sexy banter between Charles and his female vocalists throughout part two becoming more ribald on every break (their sweaty sighs and groans left little to the imagination). Drummer Milt Turner lays down a magnificently complex syncopated rhythm under Charles' memorable electric piano riffs (his sinuous left-hand figure has been lifted too many times to count), front and center on an exceptionally lengthy intro that could have served as an instrumental all by itself and a 24-bar break midway through. Once the hubbub over Brother Ray's original -- an R&B chart-topper in the summer of 1959 that rose to number six on Billboard's pop charts (by far Charles' highest pop placement up to that time) -- died down, other artists paid tribute: Jerry Lee Lewis nailed his first hit in more than two years with a spirited rendition for Sun in the spring of 1961, Roy Orbison chimed in with an uncharacteristically raucous Nashville-cut version for Monument, and a lavish staging of the song in the 1964 Elvis Presley film Viva Las Vegas was one of the musical's highlights, libidinous sparks flying all over the set between Elvis and co-star Ann-Margret.