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Dobie Gray

Biography

There aren't a lot of brothers who dabble in country music. Okay, there was Charlie Pride, Joe Tex and of course Ray Charles did some Nashville sounding songs with all those strings and backing vocal choirs. But when guys like Johnny Nash or Dobie Gray played country music it was always better than those who stuck to country's often limiting and formulaic blueprint. Gray's smash hit "Drift Away" (written by Mentor Williams) is a perfect example of this. It has the instrumentation of a Jerry Reid or Bobbie Gentry recorded song, but Gray's emotive singing and subtle vocal gymnastics could go places that someone like...oh, say Kenny Rogers could never ever even dream about. He wasn't as gritty as Joe Tex, but out of all the African American guys out there who dared to try the twang, Gray's buttery voice gave his songs a flavor unmatched by anyone else. He wasn't always going for a country soul sound. Born Leonard Victor Ainsworth, he tried his hands at a few different musical styles. His first real hit "The 'In' Crowd" was a go-go pop soul ditty that the mod kids loved dancing to in the '60s. He also experimented with disco in the late '70s and garnered another chart topper with "You Can Do It" before going back to singing and recording more country songs in the '80s.
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