Tucson born Ray Brandes has been a teacher at Point Loma High School, San Diego School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Montgomery Middle School, and San Diego Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical High School. His policeman grandfather was Marilyn Monroe’s bodyguard during the 1959 filming of Some Like It Hot in Coronado.
Brandes played with several bands while attending Point Loma High School, graduating in 1980 and forming the Hedgehogs with Ron Silva (the Crawdaddys, the Saturn V), Paul Carsola (Tell-Tale Hearts), and Carl Rusk (the Nashville Ramblers). Reportedly, they made no official recordings, but live tapes do circulate.
Brandes joined the Mystery Machine in the early 1980s, performing alongside Rusk again, along with Mark Zadarnowski (the Crawdaddys, the Shambles), and Bill Calhoun and David Klowden (both of later of the Tell-Tale Hearts). The band only played three shows before splitting, though their song "She's Not Mine" was released on Voxx Records' Battle of the Garages Vol. 3. in 1983.
Brandes next co-founded the Tell-Tale Hearts, which local writer Bart Mendoza described as "A 1960s-influenced punk/rhythm and blues band, with Calhoun and Klowden, alongside Mike Stax (later of the Loons/the Hoods) and Eric Bacher. Considered among the leaders of the garage-rock movement, the group even appeared in People magazine, but surprisingly, save for a short jaunt to Springfield, Missouri, they never toured. They did, however, sign with Voxx Records, though the later '80s saw the original line-up of the group splitting."
Next turning up with country-folk rockers the Town Criers, Brandes performed with Klowden and Zadarnowski through 1990, as well as working on solo material and playing with the Shambles, alongside Klowden, Zadarnowski, Bart Mendoza, and Kevin Donaker-Ring (Manual Scan). That band toured England in 1992.
Brandes's first solo release The Lonely Sock was released on former Crawdaddy keyboardist Keith Fisher's label, Spun, in 1995. In 1998 he signed with Madrid's Snap!! Records, releasing his second album Continental Drifter, in 1999 and earning a Best Pop Album nomination at that year's San Diego Music Awards.
In 2002, Brandes released his third CD, The Rise and Fall of Ray Brandes, via Snap!! Records. Famed music journalist Paul Williams penned a March 2006 article for the Reader, with Brandes as the main interviewee.
Brandes is also a music journalist, having written for several local and national publications. His 2015 book Getting Nowhere Fast chronicles a history of the San Diego’s music scene between 1976 and 1986. “It’s important people know that punk in San Diego didn’t start in the 1990s,” he told the Reader.