Happy Birthday Bobbie! We are pleased to announce the forthcoming 8-cd boxset The Girl From Chickasaw County. This is the first major retrospective of this groundbreaking artist, and includes all seven of Bobbie’s studio albums sensitively re-mastered from the original tapes, supplemented by over 75 previously unreleased recordings including her ‘lost’ jazz album, outtakes, demos, rarities and an eighth disc of live performances taken from her celebrated series for the BBC. The release has specially commissioned cover art by David Downton and includes an 84-page book with a comprehensive essay by the boxset compiler Andrew Batt, rare and unseen photos, eight postcards and a facsimile of her original handwritten lyrics for ‘Ode To Billie Joe’. The boxset will be released by UMC on 21/09/2018. You can pre-order the set here, and for more information on the tracks and contents, visit our album page.
Summertyne Americana Festival at Sage Gateshead have programmed a special Bobbie event where Andrew Batt compiler of the recent Bobbie Gentry Live At The BBC lp will give an illustrated talk featuring rare images and audio and introduce a special screening of an episode from Bobbie’s landmark TV series for the BBC featuring The Hollies. The event is free and takes place on Sunday 22nd of July at the Sage.
The New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards have announced their 2018 Finalists, which includes last years radio documentary Ode to an Enigma: How Bobbie Gentry Ghosted Us All by Ben Manilla Productions. Winners will be announced on June 18th at the annual 2018 awards ceremony taking place at Manhattan Penthouse in New York City.
Susanna Hoffs, a founding member of the Bangles, psychedelic folk artist Donovan, and writer Tara Murtha all contribute. Fans that missed the documentary when it aired last year, can listen to it online here.
Tara Murtha celebrates the release of the Record Store Day exclusive Bobbie Gentry Live At The BBC LP in an article analysing this first collection of her live BBC Recordings and interviewing the LP’s producer. Head over to her website at www.odetobilliejoe333.com for the full story and other articles on Bobbie.
I wrote to Bobbie Gentry in the late 60s at the height of the fame of ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, and I was amazed when she replied in person! Sometime later when she came to London to record her her own TV series on BBC2, I decided to go and see her. When I arrived the audience was already settled and I was turned down at Reception because no further seats were available; but I didn’t give up! I spoke to someone from Production, they spoke to Bobbie and I was shown inside, a special chair was brought for me to sit in right at the front!! When Bobbie appeared she was like a light in darkness, she was a goddess: Beautiful, friendly, and with no airs & graces. She walked right up to me, and bent down to chat to me as if to an old friend, she thanked me for coming and said we would chat after the show, and take some photos. Everyone looked at me with envy!! And true to her word, we met afterwards, and she also introduced me to Jerry Reed her guest that night. We took some photos and she also signed the portrait of her which I had painted. I was very touched by her behaviour; I was just a fan, yet she treated me as a VIP and that says everything you need to know about her character.
I wish her long and healthy life; she deserves it. I wish I could communicate with her again, to say how much her music means to me, especially as I’ve since become known as a composer/songwriter, myself with the song Kompra. Although I’ve written other hits, people’s imagination stays on Kompra and perhaps that is why Bobbie lost interest in the end, because as a creator one wants to create, and not be interviewed just to find out about ‘that’ song. Bobbie Gentry wherever you are, we love you ❤
It’s with great pleasure that we can announce the forthcoming release of the LP Bobbie Gentry Live At The BBC for Record Store Day on 21st April 2018.
Bobbie Gentry’s performances and on-screen charisma on variety programmes on both sides of the Atlantic had impressed the head of the BBC so much that early in 1968 she was invited to host her own show on BBC 2 making her the first female songwriter to front a TV series on the network. Together with producer and director Stanley Dorfman, they made six half-hour episodes every year for a total of 18 shows spanning 1968, 1969 and 1971.
For someone who later became such a well-known stage performer, it’s surprising that this collection is Bobbie’s first album of live material to be released; backed by Musical Director John Cameron’s adept band it features recordings taken from episodes in 1968 and 1969. Bobbie’s performances of songs like Ode To Billie Joe and Refractions match and sometimes go beyond the intensity of their studio counterparts; and the medley of Nikki Hokey paired with Robert Parkers Barefootin’ feels joyous and inspired, showing just how effective Bobbie could be on more up-tempo material, whilst the sensuous croon of Mornin’ Glory and melancholy chamber pop of Recollection show Bobbie at the peak of powers as a writer and performer.
Record Store Day, now in its 11th year, is hugely important for local, independent record stores. In 2017, shops in the UK sold an extra 32,500 vinyl albums in the week of the event, with sales of 12-inch singles jumping from 2,000 to 89,000.
Rick Hall, the record producer and executive who, as the founder of Fame studios, almost single-handedly established the small Alabama town of Muscle Shoals as a crucible of some of the greatest soul music to be produced in America in the 1960s and 1970s has died aged 85.
As a hands-on producer at his Fame studio, Hall supervised classic recordings by Etta James, Wilson Pickett, Candi Staton and of course Bobbie. A fellow Southerner, Hall was born in Forest Grove, Mississippi, and brought up in Franklin County, Alabama. In 1970 he produced the Fancy album, including the title track which remains one of Bobbie’s best story songs; a musical cross between country, blues and pop that could define modern Americana. Years later in 1978, he would also produce Bobbie’s last recordings for the Curb division of Warner Bros. Hall remembered his time working with Bobbie fondly:
“I loved Bobbie. My God, she was a beautiful woman. She had a great mind! She had all kinds of talent. The first time I heard Ode to Billie Joe, I was driving past the studio, and I almost ran my car into a telephone pole! I was so amazed! Her story was my story. That’s how I grew up. “Bale the hay. Pass the biscuits,” you know? There were so many Southern things that she did. I felt in my heart that if I ever met her, we’d hit it off. I offered to produce her. We had dinner together, and we did hit it off. We had a great time together. She was one of my very favorites.”
Jim Nabors the singer and actor best known for his role as Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, died on 30/11/2017. Known for his ability to combine the charm of a sophisticated modern country gentleman with the ingenuousness of a traditional country cousin made him one of America’s most popular TV personalities of the 60’s and 70’s.
Bobbie first met Jim in 1967, and the pair appeared together on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour in March 1969, also attending the Paint your Wagon film premier together later that year in July. In December Bobbie appeared on The Jim Nabors Hour and appeared again the following year in May 1970. Jim Nabors was also a guest on The Bobbie Gentry Happiness Hour in June 1974.