Dobie Gray

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]

Dobie Gray
Dobie Gray, Bestanddeelnr 927-0102
Gray in the Netherlands, 1974
Background information
Birth nameLawrence Darrow Brown
Also known as
  • Leonard Ainsworth
  • Larry Curtis
  • Larry Dennis
BornJuly 26, 1940
Simonton, Texas, U.S.
DiedDecember 6, 2011 (aged 71)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresSoul, R&B, pop, country
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards, guitar
Years active1960–2011
Associated acts


Gray 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
"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


  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

All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You

"All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You", also known as "All I Wanna Do", is a song by the rock band Heart. It was composed by veteran songwriter and producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange and released as the lead single from the band's tenth studio album, Brigade, as well as their first hit single of the 1990s. The song was first recorded as "All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You" by Dobie Gray in 1979, though with different lyrics."All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" was a success, spending two weeks at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 (kept from the top spot by Madonna's "Vogue"), peaking at number eight in the UK Singles Chart, and reaching number one in Canada and Australia. It also reached number one in Sweden in May 1990. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Group Pop Vocal Performance, and is the only one of Heart's singles to have been certified Gold by the RIAA. On the Adult Contemporary chart, the song climbed to number six, becoming the third of Heart's four top-ten AC hits (after "These Dreams" and "Alone").

The single is Heart's last pop chart top ten hit in the US to date. The band had one more top ten Adult Contemporary chart hit with the follow-up, "Stranded"; "Stranded" and two singles from 1994's Desire Walks On ("Black on Black II" and "Will You Be There (In The Morning)") were also top 10 Album Rock chart hits.

Be a Man

Be a Man may refer to:

AlbumsBe a Man (Missile Innovation album)

Be a Man (Randy Savage album)Songs"Be a Man" (The Heptones song)

"Be a Man" (Hole song)

"Be a Man", 1964 song by Dobie Gray

"Be a Man", 1989 song by Tesla from The Great Radio Controversy

"Be a Man", 1997 song from Aquarium (Aqua album)

Drift Away

"Drift Away" is a song by Mentor Williams written in 1970 and originally recorded by John Henry Kurtz on his 1972 album Reunion. Mentor Williams was a country songwriter, and John Henry Kurtz was an actor and swamp rock singer. It was later given to soul-singer Dobie Gray, to which it became a surprise International hit; and the best known version. In 1973 the song became Dobie Gray's biggest hit, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and certified gold by the RIAA. It was the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States.

A new version by Uncle Kracker, with Gray, became a major hit in 2003.

Feelings (Morris Albert song)

"Feelings" is a song with lyrics written by Brazilian singer Morris Albert, set to the tune of "Pour Toi" separately composed by Louis “Loulou” Gasté in 1957. Albert recorded "Feelings" as a single and later included it as the title track of his 1975 debut album. The song's lyrics, recognizable by their "whoa whoa whoa" chorus, concern the singer's inability to "forget my feelings of love". Albert's original recording of the song was very successful, performing well internationally. In mid-1975, "Feelings" peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States.

Got My Heart Set on You

"Got My Heart Set on You" is a song written by Dobie Gray and Bud Reneau, and recorded by American country music artist John Conlee. It was released in May 1986 as the second single from the album Harmony. "Got My Heart Set on You" was John Conlee's seventh and final number one country hit. The single went to number one for one week and spent a total of fourteen weeks on the country chart.

Harold Shedd

James Harold Shedd (born November 8, 1931) is a music industry executive and producer, best known for his role as producer of the country group Alabama as well as Reba McEntire, Shania Twain and Toby Keith. During his career he has headed Mercury Records and Mercury's sister label, Polydor.

I Know a Place (Petula Clark album)

I Know a Place is an album release by Petula Clark, which in the USA (her second on Warner Bros.) charted at #42. In the UK, the album was released as The New Petula Clark Album, a name which was dropped during later re-releases to prevent confusion among record-buyers.Arranged and produced by Tony Hatch, the album followed on the release of Clark's "I Know a Place" hit single and yielded another UK hit with "You're the One". The latter song was a Top Ten hit in the US for the Vogues and another song introduced by Clark on this album: "Call Me", was reached the US Top 30 via a cover by Chris Montez.

Another album cut: "Strangers and Lovers", is noteworthy as the song Helen Reddy chose to compete with in the televised talent show she won in 1965, her victory marking her move from Australia to the US."The In Crowd" was also recorded in 1965 by Dobie Gray, whose version charted in the top-twenty in the U.S. and top-thirty in the U.K.

Lawrence Brown

Lawrence Brown or Laurence Brown may refer to:

Lawrence Benjamin Brown (1893–1972), American pianist, composer, and arranger of African-American folk songs

Lawrence Brown (jazz trombonist) (1907–1988), American jazz trombonist

Laurie Brown (bishop) (1907–1993), Bishop of Birmingham, 1969–1977

Lawrence Michael Brown (born 1936), British material scientist

Dobie Gray (Lawrence Darrow Brown, 1940–2011), American singer and songwriter

Lawrence D. Brown (born 1940), American professor of statistics at the University of Pennsylvania

Lawrence G. Brown (born 1943), American professor of mathematics at Purdue University

Loving Arms

"Loving Arms" is a song written by Tom Jans and first recorded and released by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge as a duet in 1973.It was later covered by Dobie Gray and by Elvis Presley in 1974.

Mentor Williams

Mentor Ralph Williams (June 11, 1946 – November 16, 2016) was an American songwriter and producer. He is best known for writing "Drift Away", a middle-of-the-road playlist classic performed by Dobie Gray in 1973.

Orsa Lia

Orsa Lia, born in Virginia, is a female singer. She recorded some jingles for television commercials in the 1970s before signing on with an upstart record label, Infinity Records, in the late 1970s.

She is best known for the song, "I Never Said I Love You", which was written and produced by Hal David and Archie Jordan. David had been a longtime collaborator with Burt Bacharach on many well-known songs, most notably for singer Dionne Warwick. Country singer Barbara Mandrell recorded "I Never Said I Love You" on her 1976 lp "Midnight Angel". Although "I Never Said I Love You" only reached number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in April 1979, the song did spend one week at number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart that same month. It was Lia's only song to reach the music charts in the United States.

Later in 1979, Lia recorded a duet with singer Dobie Gray, who was also signed to Infinity Records. However, by this time the label was in dire financial straits, and it wound up folding and becoming a part of its parent company, MCA Records.

Out on the Floor

Out On The Floor is a single by Dobie Gray one of the most popular Northern Soul songs of all time. It has been referred to as the song that defines Northern Soul.

Preston Ritter

Preston James Ritter (April 24, 1949 – March 30, 2015) was an American drummer, drum teacher and author of drum methods.

He joined The Electric Prunes in 1966, and played on their debut studio album, The Electric Prunes, and two hit singles, before being replaced by Michael Weakley during recording of the band's second album, Underground , in 1967. He was also involved with Linda Ronstadt, The Beach Boys, and Dobie Gray. He later worked as a DJ and as a police officer and private investigator before becoming a Christian missionary in Korea, where he taught theology. In later years he returned to Los Angeles, and taught and wrote books on drumming.He died in 2015, after several years of dialysis for kidney problems, including two kidney transplants.

The 'In' Crowd (song)

"The ‘In’ Crowd" is a 1964 song written by Billy Page and arranged by his brother Gene that was originally performed by Dobie Gray on his album Dobie Gray Sings For "In" Crowders That Go "Go-Go". Gray's powerful Motown-like version, complete with brass section, reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 20 February 1965 and #25 in the UK in 1965. Gray's Shindig! performance of the song aired on 10 March 1965.

There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)

"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)" is a song written by Troy Seals and Denny Rice, and recorded by American country music artist Conway Twitty. It was released in January 1974 as the first single from the album Honky Tonk Angel. The single was Twitty's 10th number one on the U.S. country singles chart as a solo artist and 13th overall. It stayed at number one for one week and spent 12 weeks on the chart in all.

Tom Jans

Tom Jans (February 9, 1948 – March 25, 1984) was an American folk singer-songwriter and guitarist from San Jose, California. He is perhaps best known for his song "Loving Arms" (also known as "Lovin' Arms"), which was recorded initially by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, and later by artists including Dobie Gray, Elvis Presley, Dixie Chicks, Natalie Cole, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, Jon English, Livingston Taylor, Etta James, Millie Jackson, Jody Miller, The Beautiful South and The Cats.

Volunteer Jam

The Volunteer Jam was the annual Charlie Daniels Band concert first held on October 4, 1974, at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee This was the beginning of a tradition.

Each of the Nashville concerts featured a long list of special guests appearing onstage with Charlie and his band including Ted Nugent, The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tammy Wynette, Roy Acuff, Carl Perkins, Alabama, Don Henley, Barefoot Jerry and many more. Many of these concerts were broadcast live on the radio. The Volunteer Jam on nationwide TV included a live broadcast on the Jerry Lewis Telethon and a Dick Clark produced network special. Volunteer Jam is also the name of a series of albums released by Charlie Daniels of performances from the late 1970s and early 1980s at the Volunteer Jam shows.

We Had It All (song)

"We Had It All" is a song written by Troy Seals and Donnie Fritts and originally recorded by Waylon Jennings on his 1973 album, Honky Tonk Heroes. It has since been covered by many artists, including Rita Coolidge, Dobie Gray, Susan Jacks, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Conway Twitty, Ray Charles, and Dottie West.

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