Houston, Texas, was the birthplace of Dobie Gray in July of either 1940 or 1942. Even his exact name at birth, appears to be a matter of some conjecture. His father was a minister of the Baptist faith and it was in church that Dobie discovered a penchant for gospel.
Dobie moved to live in Los Angeles, in 1960. During the early part of his career, he reportedly recorded under a number of aliases and, it is said, that Sonny Bono was a mentor to him. His first release of significance came in 1965 when his original version of “The ‘In’ Crowd” reached No.13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and No.25 in Britain, as well as climbing to No.11 on the American rhythm and blues chart.
Lean years, as a recording artist, ensued and so Dodie turned to musical theatre. For more than two years he appeared in the production of ‘Hair’, in Los Angeles.
In 1972, Dobie was signed to record on the label, Decca Records. “Drift Away” became the biggest hit of his career when, in 1973, more than a million copies of it were sold. The single rose to sit at No.5 on the pop chart in the United States. I remember hearing at the time of how the staff at one American radio station became so enamoured of the recording that it was played continuously for a whole day!
“Drift Away” was recorded by Uncle Kracker, in duet with Dobie, in 2003 and, as a result, once again became a hit. Dobie Gray died in December of 2011 after he had fought a prolonged battle against cancer.