Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Today In Oldies 12/7/2011

Golden Hits Radio's Everything Oldies......where Oldies news comes first!


Dobie Gray (1940-2011)

The Golden Hits Radio family lost an incredible talent yesterday, as Dobie Gray passed away at the age of 71.  He is one of the few artists who had a hit with the same song across two very different generations and is still a staple of Oldies and Adult Contemporary radio stations today. 

Not much is known about Dobie Gray's childhood.  He is thought to have been born near Houston, Texas.  In fact, even his given name is in question.  Some sources indicate his birth name is Lawrence Darrow Brown.  Still others claim it is Leonard Victor Ainsworth, a name he used on several early recordings.  

He moved to Los Angeles in the early 60's to pursue acting, but he also sang to pick up some extra money.  None other than Sonny Bono suggested he make his stage name Dobie Gray, a play on the name of the title character on the 60's TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  His big break in music came in 1965 with the original version of "The In Crowd", a Top 15 hit for him that would become an even bigger instrumental hit later that year for the Ramsey Lewis Trio. 

As another hit song would elude him for nine years while recording for smaller independent labels, his acting career began to take off, with his most notable role coming during a 2 1/2 year stint in the Los Angeles production of the stage musical Hair

In 1972, he would sign a major label contract with Decca Records, which had just become part of the MCA family of labels.  Working with Mentor Williams, brother of legendary songwriter Paul Williams, his biggest hit would come with a song written and produced by Williams.  "Drift Away" was a smash, going Top 5 in the U.S. and Top 10 in Canada.  It has remained a mainstay on both Oldies and Adult Contemporary stations.  Almost 30 years later, it was a smash all over again, as a duet between Dobie Gray and hip hop artist Uncle Kracker was a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the top of the Adult Contemporary charts in 2003.  A whole new generation had discovered the laid back sounds of "Drift Away". 

He would hit the Top 40 only once more in his career with 1979's "You Can Do It", but his success as a songwriter continued throughout the 1980's with a move to Nashville working with country artists. 

Dobie Gray may have left us, but it's safe to say we will be "drifting away" to his 1974 smash forever.  Here are all 3 of his Billboard Top 40 hits........


Golden Hits Radio's Burning Question of the Day

Which group appeared on the British TV show Jukebox Jury today in 1963, and declared Elvis Presley's then-current single "Kiss Me Quick" a "hit"? 

Come back to Everything Oldies tomorrow to find the answer, and leave a Comment below with your best guess! 

Friday's Burning Question (and Answer) of the Day

No less than five "answer" songs to what Elvis Presley hit were on the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1960?  

Answer:   "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"


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