Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Gentrys--Keep On Dancing (1965)

     The Gentrys were another one of the many bands who got their start out of high school. Most of the members (with the exception of Larry Butler on keyboards) all come out of Treadwell High School in Memphis. The first lineup consisted of Bruce Bowles and Jimmy Hart on vocals, Bobby Fisher on sax and keyboards, Jimmy Johnson on trumpet, Pat Neal on bass, Larry Raspberry on guitar and lead vocals (he was the lead on 'Keep On Dancing'), Larry Wall on drums, and Butler.
     The boys founded the group in May of 1963 and was soon playing for school parties and local dances. More people began to take notice as the group took third place in the Mid-South Fair Talent Competition in September of 64 and by the end of the year had received a recording contract. The first single did well in the Memphis/Mid-South area, but it was the next song, "Keep On Dancing" which broke through in a big way, reaching number 4 in the fall of 1965.
     The song itself is unusual in the fact the first verse recording is actually repeated on the record. If you listen there is a fake fade, then a drum fill then the exact verse is played again. This was to fill it out to a normal length for radio airplay. The band reached the top 100 again a few more times, but never with the success of this song.
     The group disbanded by the end of 1966, but in 1969 Jimmy Hart reformed the group with himself as lead singer. This version of the group lasted until 1971 and included, Steve Spear (Bass), Davey Beaver (Keyboards), Jimmy Tarbutton (guitar), and Mike Gardner (drums). This version of the band never had a hit, but did reach the top 100 on a couple of occasions, mostly notably with a version of Neil Young's, "Cinnamon Girl' which charted before Young's. There was actually another incarnation of the group with Hart as lead singer in 1972, before the name was hung up for good.
     This however wasn't the end of our story with Jimmy Hart. You see, another alum of Treadwell High School was a wrestler named Jerry "The King" Lawler. Hart was asked to sing back up for Lawler on a song, and although nothing came of it, Hart became hooked on wrestling. He soon became a manager for some well known names in the sport during the early 80's, but it was when he was hired by Vince McMahon and the WWF that his star began to really rise. He became known as, "The Mouth of the South" for carrying a megaphone with him to shout instructions to his men. He never totally gave up music however, as he wrote many of the theme songs for wrestlers throughout his career. In the 80's and early 90's, if there was a music association with the WWF, generally he was behind it. Although he has worked for other wrestling groups, he returned to the WWE in 2011.


1 comment:

  1. I remember reading about this a long time ago, but entirely forgot about it! A great post linking the Mouth to the '60s music scene. So cool...