- 🇺🇸 Simonton, TX
- Years Active
1960 - 2011
Dobie Gray achieved pop music immortality with the 1973 release of his country-soul classic "Drift Away."
Gray's early life is poorly documented, but it's likely he was born Lawrence Darrow Brown in Texas, where he learned to sing in his minister grandfather's Baptist church choir. He split for California to pursue an acting career but enjoyed greater success singing in supper clubs, recording his 1960 debut single "I Can Hardly Wait" for independent label Stripe. Gray (a stage name bestowed in honor of the television sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) enjoyed his first significant chart success with 1964's ebullient Motown soundalike "The ‘In' Crowd," the first in a string of mid-Sixties singles that later achieved immortality on Britain's Northern soul dance circuit. "The ‘In' Crowd" reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1965, inspiring a hit live cover by jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis.
Gray's career continued in fits and starts, and after a series of little-noticed singles he spent more than two years in the touring cast of the rock musical Hair before signing on with the funk ensemble Pollution. "Drift Away," Gray's signature song, was written and produced by longtime collaborator Mentor Williams: the single, a poignant celebration of pop music's extraordinary capacity to soothe the mind, body and spirit, rose to number five on Billboard's Hot 100, selling more than a million copies. Gray later contributed vocals to Uncle Kracker's smash 2002 cover of "Drift Away," and continued performing and writing until his death in 2011.
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