Formed in 1963 in Memphis, Tennessee, The Gentrys forged their early reputation playing high school dances before winning the city’s Battle of the Bands contest and securing a recording contract with the independent Youngstown label.
Their first release, Sometimes, was coupled with the infectious Keep On Dancing, an R&B track that attracted more interest than the A-side.
MGM Records picked up the national distribution rights to the single, resulting in the single reaching #4 – and subsequently selling in excess of one million copies. The song was covered some years later by The Bay City Rollers, giving them their first chart hit in 1971.
The Gentrys were unable to repeat their early success but remained a popular live attraction throughout America’s southern states.
After the breakup of the group in 1970, Jimmy Hart resuscitated the Gentrys’ name by forming a new lineup with Steve Speer (bass), Dave Beaver (keyboards), Jimmy Tarbutton (guitar) and Mike Gardner (drums).
This incarnation achieved some success with minor placings in the singles chart – with Why Should I Cry (#61 in March 1970) and Cinnamon Girl (#52 in June 1970).
Hart subsequently found greater fame and success in professional wrestling, as a manager, nicknamed “The Mouth of the South.”
Larry Raspberry later embarked on a solo career, leading a new group called The Highsteppers.
Larry “Razz” Raspberry
Saxophone, keyboards, guitar