b. Lawrence Darrow Brown, a.k.a. Leonard Victor Ainsworth, 26th July 1940, Simontown, Texas, U.S.A.
d. 6th December 2011, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Dobie Gray was born Lawrence Darrow Brown in Simontown in Texas in 1940.
He is best remembered for his songs, 'The 'In' Crowd' (in 1965), and 'Drift Away', (in 1973), the latter selling over one million copies.
Dobie's parents were Jane P. Spencel and Jethro Clifton Brown, however, he utilised the name Leonard Victor Ainsworth on some of his early sides, leading to some biographical confusion over the years.
Dobie came from a modest family environment, and in the early 1960s he relocated from Texas to Los Angeles with the intention of acting or, possibly, singing.
He recorded for several local imprint's under various names, including Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis, and Larry Dennis.
The performer Sonny Bono helped Dobie land a deal with the independent label Stripe Records, and then changed his performing name to Dobie Gray.
to be wanted b/w i can hardly wait - 1960 / love has a way b/w delia - 1960
At Stripe he recorded during 1960-1961, releasing the songs 'To Be Wanted', 'Rags To Riches', 'Love Has A Way' and 'Kissin' Doll'.
In 1963, he released the 45 'Look At Me', for the Cor-Dak label, which reached number 91 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Dobie then relerased his first album, entitled 'Look!''.
In 1965 he achieved his first major success with the release of 'The 'In' Crowd' (later recorded by Ramsey Lewis) which charted at number 13.
Penned by Billy Page (Gene Page's brother), the song also reached number 11 on the U.S. R&B chart, and number 25 in the U.K.
'The In Crowd' was followed up by 'See You at the Go-Go', which also reached the Hot 100.
dobie gray sings for the in crowders that go go - 1965 / loving arms - 1973 / drift away - 1973 / hey dixie - 1974
Dobie then released the album 'Dobie Gray Sings For 'In' Crowders That Go Go Go', which contained some self penned material.
out on the floor b/w no room to cry - 1966 / out on the floor b/w my baby - 1968
He continued to record for small imprints, including Charger (featuring 'Out On The Floor' b/w 'No Room To Cry' in 1966), Thunderbird, Capitol and White Whale (featuring 'Rose Garden' b/w 'Where's The Girl Gone').
A period of 8 years passed before his next recording success, in the meantime Dobie worked as an actor, appearing in productions of 'Hair' and the controversial play 'The Beard'.
At the turn of the 1970's Dobie sang lead for a rock group called Pollution, as singer and percussionist, who recorded three albums.
Pollution's band line-up included Carmen 'Tata' Vega and the guitarist/singer James Quill Smith, along with former members of the group Beethoven Soul.
Dobie then worked at A & M Records on demo recordings with songwriter Paul Williams along with producer Mentor Williams, Paul's brother, in Nashville.
One of these songs was a Mentor Williams' penned song called 'Drift Away' b/w 'City Stars', which became a U.S. Top 5 song in 1973.
The hit was followed by the single 'Loving Arms' b/w 'Now That I'm Without You', which reached number 61 in the chart.
Dobie then released three albums with MCA, namely, 'Drift Away', 'Loving Arms', and 'Hey, Dixie'.
new ray of sunshine - 1975 / let go - 1977 / dobie gray - 1979 / love's talkin' - 1987
He did have some minor successes for the Capricorn and Infinity labels, Dobie found the major labels hard to come to terms with his blend of Soul, Country and Rock stylings.
As a result, Dobie concentrated on songwriting, writing songs for a variety of artists including Ray Charles, George Jones, Johnny Mathis, Charley Pride and Don Williams.
Dobie later toured in Europe, Australia and Africa in the 1970s.
South Africa allowed him to play to integrated audiences, becoming the first artist to do so in that country during the late Seventies.
Dobie later signed as a recording artist for Capitol Records in the mid-1980's, recording with producer Harold Shedd.
He charted in 1986 and 1987, including the song 'That's One to Grow On' (reaching number 35).
He recorded a Country Music album entitled 'From Where I Stand' in 1986, and sang on a number of TV and radio jingles.
In 1997, he released the album 'Diamond Cuts', featuring newer, and some older material.
'Drift Away' became a hit again in 2003, when it was covered by Uncle Kracker on his 'No Stranger to Shame' album, the song finally climbing to nineteenth in the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2003.
On the 6th of December 2011, Dobie passed away from cancer in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dobie Gray Sings For 'In' Crowders That Go Go Go (Charger Records 1973)
Drift Away (Decca Records 1973)
Loving Arms (MCA Records 1973)
Hey Dixie (MCA Records 1974)
New Ray Of Sunshine (Capricorn Records 1975)
Dobie Gray (Capricorn Records 1976)
Midnight Diamond (Infinity Records 1979)
Diamond Cuts (Dobie Gray Records 2000)
Songs Of The Season (Dobie Gray Records 2002)
Soul Days (LocoBop Records 2010)