Dobie Gray

Dobie Gray

born on 26/7/1940 in Simonton, TX, United States

died on 6/12/2011

Dobie Gray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Dobie Gray (born Lawrence Darrow Brown; July 26, 1940 – December 6, 2011) was an American singer and songwriter, whose musical career spanned soul, country, pop, and musical theater. His hit songs included "The 'In' Crowd" in 1965 and "Drift Away", which was one of the biggest hits of 1973, sold over one million copies, and remains a staple of radio airplay.[1]


He was born near Houston, Texas.[2][3] His birth name was most likely Lawrence Darrow Brown,[3][4] listed in Fort Bend County birth records as being born in 1940 to Jane and Jethro C. Brown. Other sources suggest he may have been born Leonard Victor Ainsworth,[1] a name he used on some early recordings.

His family sharecropped. He discovered gospel music through his grandfather, a Baptist minister.[2]


In the early 1960s Gray moved to Los Angeles, intending to pursue an acting career while also singing to make money. He recorded for several local labels under the names Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis, and Larry Dennis, before Sonny Bono directed him toward the small independent Stripe Records. They suggested that he record under the name "Dobie Gray", an allusion to the then-popular sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.[3]

His first taste of success came in 1963 when his seventh single "Look At Me", on the Cor-Dak label and recorded with bassist Carol Kaye,[5] reached #91 on the Billboard Hot 100.[4][6]

However, his first album, Look!, failed to sell.[5] Greater success came in early 1965 when his original recording of "The 'In' Crowd" (recorded later that year as an instrumental by Ramsey Lewis, and also covered in 1965 by Petula Clark) reached #13. Written by Billy Page and arranged by his brother, Gene[7] and produced by Fred Darian,[4][8] Gray's record reached #11 on the US R&B chart, and #25 in the UK. The follow-up, "See You at the Go-Go", recorded with such top session musicians as Kaye, Hal Blaine, and Larry Knechtel, also reached the Hot 100, and he issued an album, Dobie Gray Sings For 'In' Crowders That Go 'Go Go,' which featured some self-penned songs.[5]

Gray continued to record, albeit with little success, for small labels such as Charger and White Whale, as well as contributing to movie soundtracks.[6] He also spent several years working as an actor, including two and a half years in the Los Angeles production of Hair.[1][3]

In 1970, while working there, he joined a band, Pollution, as singer and percussionist. They were managed by actor Max Baer Jr. (best known as "Jethro" in The Beverly Hillbillies) and released two albums of soul-inspired psychedelic rock, Pollution I and Pollution II.[5][9] The band included singer Tata Vega and guitarist/singer James Quill Smith. He also worked at A&M Records on demo recordings with songwriter Paul Williams.[3]

In 1972, he won a recording contract with Decca Records (shortly before it became part of MCA) to make an album with producer Mentor Williams -- Paul's brother -- in Nashville. Among the songs they recorded at the Quadrafonic Sound Studios, co-owned by session musicians Norbert Putnam and David Briggs, was Mentor Williams' "Drift Away", featuring a guitar riff by Reggie Young.[3][10] Released as a single, the song rose to #5 on the US pop chart and remains Dobie Gray's signature song.[1] It placed at #17 in the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1973, sold over 1 million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA on July 5, 1973.[11] The follow-up, a version of Tom Jans' much-covered song "Loving Arms", hit #61. Gray also released three albums with MCA, Drift Away, Loving Arms, and Hey, Dixie, but later stated that MCA were unsure of how to market the albums -- "They didn't know where to place a black guy in country music."[3]

In the mid-1970s, he moved permanently to Nashville and signed for Capricorn Records, writing songs in collaboration with Troy Seals.[1] His last solo hit singles were "If Love Must Go", #78 in 1976, and "You Can Do It", #37 in 1978.[4] He increasingly concentrated on songwriting, writing songs for a variety of artists including Ray Charles, George Jones, Johnny Mathis, Charley Pride, and Don Williams.[3][6] He also toured in Europe, Australia and Africa in the 1970s. He performed in South Africa only after persuading the apartheid authorities to allow him to play to integrated audiences, becoming the first artist to do so.[1] His popularity in South Africa continued through numerous subsequent concert tours.[2][3]

Dobie Gray re-emerged as a recording artist for Capitol Records in the mid-1980s, recording with producer Harold Shedd. He placed two singles on the US country chart in 1986-87, including "That's One to Grow On" which peaked at #35.[1][12] His country albums included From Where I Stand in 1986, and he made several appearances at Charlie Daniels' popular Volunteer Jam concerts.[6] He also sang on a number of TV and radio jingles.[3] Gray sang the song "Paradise Road" that appeared in the 1988 film Blind Justice that starred Christopher Cazenove, Patrick Shai, Oliver Reed and Edita Brychta.[13][14]

In 1997, he released the album Diamond Cuts, including both new songs and re-recordings of older material.[1]

In 2000, Wigan Casino DJ Kev Roberts, compiled The Northern Soul Top 500, which was based on a survey of Northern soul fans.[15] Gray's "Out On The Floor", a 1966 recording which would become a British hit in 1975, made the Top 10.

"Drift Away" became a hit again in 2003, when he covered the song as a duet with Uncle Kracker on the latter's No Stranger to Shame album. The re-recording peaked at #9 one week to the day after Gray's 63rd birthday and placed at #19 in the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2003 as well as logging a record-setting 28 weeks atop the Adult Contemporary chart in 2003-04.


Gray died on December 6, 2011 of complications from cancer surgery in Nashville, Tennessee, aged 71.[16] His remains were buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park And Mausoleum in Nashville.



  • Look (Stripe, 1963)
  • Dobie Gray Sings For "In" Crowders That Go "Go-Go" (Charger, 1965)
  • Pollution (Prophecy/Atlantic, 1970)
  • Pollution II (Prophecy/Atlantic, 1971)
  • Drift Away (Decca/MCA, 1973) US #64
  • Loving Arms (MCA, 1973) US #188
  • Hey Dixie (MCA, 1975)(with Lonnie Mack)
  • New Ray Of Sunshine (Capricorn, 1976)
  • Let Go (Capricorn, 1977)
  • The Best Of Dobie Gray (Gallo, 1978)
  • Dobie Gray & Mary Wells (Gusto Inc., 1978)
  • Mellow Man (Capricorn, 1978)
  • Midnight Diamond (Capricorn, 1978) US #174, R&B #72
  • Dobie Gray (Infinity, 1979)
  • Welcome Home (Equity / Robox, 1981)
  • From Where I Stand (Capitol/EMI/Amer., 1986)
  • Love’s Talkin’ (Capitol/EMI/Amer., 1987)
  • Dobie Gray: His Very Best (Razor & Tie, 1996)
  • Diamond Cuts (Dobie Gray Prods., 1998)
  • Soul Days (CDMemphis, 2001)
  • Dobie Gray: The Ultimate (Universal Hip-O, 2001)
  • Songs Of The Season (Dobie Gray Prods., 2001)
  • Dobie Gray: A Decade of Dobie (1969–1979) (UMG/Select-O-Hits, 2005)


Chart singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
US R&B US AC US Country CAN CAN AC CAN Country UK[19]
1963 "Look at Me" 91  —  —  —  —  —  —  —
1965 "The 'In' Crowd" 13 11  —  — 8 25
"See You at the Go-Go" 69
1969 "Rose Garden" 119
1973 "Drift Away" 5 42 7
  • US: Gold[20]
"Loving Arms" 61 81 7 70 2
"Good Old Song" 103
1974 "Watch Out for Lucy" 107
1975 "Out on the Floor" 42
1976 "If Love Must Go" 78
"Find 'Em, Fool 'Em & Forget 'Em" 94 71
1979 "You Can Do It" 37 32 58
"In Crowd" 47
1986 "That's One to Grow On" 35
"The Dark Side of Town" 42 48
"From Where I Stand" 67
1987 "Take It Real Easy" 82
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released to that country

Featured singles

Year Single Artist Peak chart positions Album
US US Country US Adult US AC US Pop NZ
1985 "One Big Family" Heart of Nashville 61 single only
2003 "Drift Away" Uncle Kracker 9 2 1 10 25 No Stranger to Shame

Music videos

Year Video Director
1985 "One Big Family" (Heart of Nashville) Steve Von Hagel

See also

  • List of best-charting U.S. music artists
  • List of soul musicians
  • List of disco artists (A-E)
  • List of Decca Records artists


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Huey, Steve. "Dobie Gray Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dobie Gray biodata". Dobie Gray Website. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ellis, Bill (July 29, 2000). "Get Lost in the Rock and Roll of 'Drift Away' Dobie Gray". The Commercial Appeal. 
  4. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menominee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 291. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Dobie Gray, "Drift Away", "Loving Arms", "The In-Crowd"". 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Dobie Gray biography". 1940-07-26. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  7. ^ Ed Hogan (1940-09-13). "Gene Page | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  8. ^ "Fred Darian biography". Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  9. ^ "Play It Again, Max: Pollution - I (1971) & II (1972)". 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  10. ^ Daley, Dan (2008-01-09). "Classic Tracks: Dobie Gray's "Drift Away"". Mixonline. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  11. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 136. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  12. ^ "Dobie Gray Billboard Singles". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ Imdb - Blind Justice (1988), Soundtracks
  14. ^ - Blind Justice, Créditos, Reparto
  15. ^ " Parker...Northern Soul 500". Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  16. ^ Vitello, Paul (December 7, 2011). "Dobie Gray, Singer Known for 'Drift Away', Dies". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ "Dobie Gray, "Drift Away", "Loving Arms", "The In-Crowd"". 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 373. ISBN 0-89820-188-8. 
  19. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 235. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  20. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - November 21, 2010: Dobie Gray certified singles". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2010. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Dobie Gray discography at Discogs
  • Dobie Gray on IMDb
  • Dobie Gray at Find a Grave
This page was last modified 20.06.2018 16:43:04

This article uses material from the article Dobie Gray from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.