Thursday, September 20, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Gentrys

Artist:The Gentrys
Song:Keep On Dancing
Album:Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios

Because I know a lot about music and also pro wrestling, I am always asked if legendary WWF manager Jimmy "Mouth Of The South" Hart had a hit record in the 60s. The answer is yes. He was a member of The Gentrys and they had a top five hit with Keep On Dancing in 1965. The Gentrys were formed in 1963 at Treadwell High School in Memphis. The lead singer and guitarist was Larry Raspberry. The other members were Jimmy Hart and Bruce Bowles on vocals, Bobby Fisher on sax, Jimmy Johnson on trumpet, Larry Butler on keyboards, Pat Neal on bass and Larry Wall on drums. The other key figure in The Gentrys was veteran producer Lincoln "Chips" Moman. Moman worked at Stax in the early years and left in 1964 to start the recording studio American Studios. Keep On Dancing was written by William Young and he recorded it as The Avantis in 1963. This is not to be confused with the instrumental rock group The Avantis led by the Vegas brothers who would later become famous as Redbone. It looks like Young bounced around a lot of Memphis R & B groups. The Avantis was Young backed by Memphis studio musicians. So Moman was recording The Gentrys and he thought Keep On Dancing would be a good song for them. The record was picked up by MGM Records for national distribution and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. Raspberry sings the lead vocal. Most of The Gentrys quit to get real jobs in 1966. You can get Keep On Dancing on this Ace Records various artists comp. Hart reformed The Gentrys with different musicians in 1969. They recorded for Sun Records and then Capitol with Sam Phillips' son Knox Phillips producing. They did chart in 1969 with a cover of Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl.  Hart wrote most of the songs for that version of The Gentrys. Hart went on to be a pro wrestling manager for Memphis Wrestling, the WWF in the 80s and WCW in the 90s. He even recorded an album in the 80s. He is still involved in pro wrestling today. Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers were very popular in Memphis clubs in the 70s. But they never got a break. Their one album on the Stax label Enterprise died when Stax went bankrupt. Raspberry is a local legend in Memphis. Here are The Gentrys performing Keep On Dancing on Shindig 1965.

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