Friday, August 03, 2007

The Gentrys "Keep On Dancing" turns 42



If you're still around from those innocent days and remember the classic song "Keep On Dancing" by The Gentrys...well then my friend...you're getting old. That was 42 years ago. As a matter of fact, for us baby-boomers to recall anything from that era is quite an accomplishment. It's a daunting prospect for anyone (and I should know) to shake-off the cob webs and reminisce those days. Yet, while discussing the song just recently, my better half surprised me when she boastfully declared, "Of course, I remember 'Keep On Dancing.' She continued with her testimony, "My sister and I actually went to the record store and purchased the record." Hmm...hard to believe. But she was telling the truth as she revealed that her copy of "Keep On Dancing" was by... The Bay City Rollers.

Oh, the horror of it all.


The Gentrys were the eternally youthful 60's garage band from Memphis that recorded the original song in 1965. Produced by legendary producer, Chips Moman, "Keep On Dancing" was the second release for the band on the Youngstown label. The trendy song started it's life as a mere B-side when it was 'flipped-over' by WMPS disk jockey Roy Mack after the A-side petered out. Across town at radio station WHBQ the request lines received immediate response in support of the upbeat dance song. That's when record giant MGM Records stepped in and purchased the distribution rights from Youngstown and released the record worldwide.

The Gentrys "Keep On Dancing" would go on to conquer the Billboard Charts with a gold record peaking at #4. Quite an accomplishment for a group of high school seniors from Treadwell High. The band was formed in 1963 by vocalist-guitarist Larry Raspberry and joined by members Jimmy Hart, Bruce Bowles, Larry Wall, Pat Neal, Bobby Fisher and Jimmy Johnson. They were a handsome crew and lived-up to their name with band outfits of matching blue blazers, turtle neck sweaters and high-heeled Beatle boots. The band's leader, Larry Raspberry (as seen below), was quite the showman and many local musicians aspired to parallel his band's success.

Oozing with talent and gifted with an unflappable sense of humor, Raspberry's leadership was the spearhead of the band. On nights when the group struggled with various stage elements, band members simply jumped on his back as he carried the weight throughout the performance. Pictured above is a classic photo revealing Raspberry pointing a orchestra baton to a poster of keyboardist Stuart Payne's mutilated foot. Quite typical of Raspberry's wacky shenanigans.

Although the band would continue to evolve in the coming years with other talented members, The Gentrys would go on to record additional albums on both MGM and also SUN Records.



In this later version of The Gentrys (seen below), perhaps this group was the tightest unit to hit the road and stayed together for an extended period. (L-R) Jimmy Hart, Sonny Pittman, Bruce Bowles, Larry Raspberry, Stuart Payne and Mike Gardner.


In another classic photo, below Road Manager Phillip Rauls trys to hold back a muted laugh while band leader Larry Raspberry squats beside him and accidentally let's one go prior to the camera snapping the picture. Got Beano?


Copyrighted (c) photos and material by Phillip Rauls - All Rights Reserved

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Philip,

Great stuff Philip I always enjoy reading your articiles. Seems just like
yesterday that we were all listening to the Gentrys'. Time has a way of
catching us off guard to the point we have to stop and remember what a great
life we have had and still have. I don't think anything is more important
that having those preicious moments were remembering puts a smile on your
face.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great stuff Phillip. Thanks. What ever happened to Phil Rush? Remember our mutual jaunt to one of the picnics?I'm still in Mempho, commuting to La. for most of my work.Talked to John Long recently, and we walked down memory lane.I'll stay in touch.

LM

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Phillip.

The Gentry's hit was before I got to Memphis. However, as a young teen-ager in Houston at the time, I can tell you they were the talk of my town. Of course, a few years later, I was fortunate enough to meet and get to know all of the original bunch.

I talk to Bruce quite often. He was telling me a story the other day about a time when they were playing the Whiskey in LA. Buffalo Springfield was their opening act!

I ran into Jimmy with his wrestling partner/promoter Corey Maclin a few weeks ago. I saw Larry last year at an oldies show that someone put together at some church in Cordova. (Flash, Haspel, Dickinson, Tommy burke, and a few others performed that night.)

GH

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Phillip, we are getting old aren't we? Sam turned 61 on last Wed. Hope you remembered, Thanks for the memories, Bobby

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first read on the subject line, I thought you were suggesting you were 42 and still dancing- I was going to suggest therapy

Jim

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those of us that attended a high school with high academic standards, must over look the educational shortcomings of the less privileged.

Isaac

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Phil,

Somebody using my name (Anonymous) has been posting a lot of comments here. That's okay so far, because I agree with the gist of the comments(i.e., I enjoy your pix and blog entries).

Also agree with your profile: the view from your veranda is indeed spectacular. So was the view from your office (and mine) atop the Shrine Building in Memphis, where we could look out across the great Mississippi River and see the tornados coming towards us from the cotton fields of Arkansas.

All the best,
Tim

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, loved it ! Ray

5:29 PM  
Blogger Bowles said...

Philip,

Good to see you're still with us too.It's been a long time and those old pictures don't look like anyone I know. Saw Larry a while back at Italianfest with Johnny Winter and it was good to hear him sounding and looking great.
Oh and by the way, even MY other half remembers the group. She was 8.

BB

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Phillip,

Seems like yesterday we were doing battle of the bands. Remember the Gentrys winning the battle at the Malco (now Orpheum) in Memphis doing the newly released "Satisfaction". What a great time.

Glad you're doing well and have a beautiful area to live.

Thanks for including the Gentrys.

Bob

12:20 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

We practiced that song ,before it came out with Ronnie Cirtone singing and playing lead , so it blew me away when it came out. think I was all of 14 , never saw Citron again ,he had some serious talent . Edgar Winter told me he was in Dallas , we are from Houston . To this day have no idea how he did it, when I first heard it I was sure it was us ! Loved the song , plus had it down ! Still playing after all these years and have that one song that I can trace back to my first!
We moved on to Good old Texas Psychedelic Music . now being mined in Europe , amazing .

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PHI MY NAME IS LETHA FROM BIRMINGHAM ALA I WAS THE PRES. OF THE GENTRYS FAN CLUB IN THE BIG B'HAM . i DON'T KNOW IF THEY WOULD REMEBER ME OR NOT,THEY USE TO GET A BIG KICK OUT OF MY MOM.WANTED TO SAY HAY AND SEE HOW EVERYONE WAS.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this post about the Gentrys still active?

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Ronnie said...

I remember you Letha ---

Ronnie---Bass 1966-1967

Phi, I have another picture of Gentrys after our gig at The Whiskey in 1966. That was our first exposure to the true 60's experience. Steven Stills, Neal Young, Jim Messina, Richey Havens blew us off the stage from the beginning. They were so great with their music "All original that they had written." We shed the matching blazers immediately and went shopping. Larry Butler bought a marroon velour 2 piece outfit and wore it for 2 weeks. Whew! You should see his accomplishments since those days. Google Larry Butler. You'll be amazed. I remember you Phil and often wonder what happened to everybody. Live the moment. It goes so fast.

7:20 PM  
Blogger david said...

Hello Philip and all,I have an IMPORTANT QUESTION!!!
I was 7 years old when our parents bought the Gentrys 'Keep on Dancing'album. My brothers and i LOVED it and the Gentrys and listened to it all the time..along with the Beatles,Monkees,Hermans Hermits etc. Since i was 7 years old ive always wondered..WHERE WAS THE ALBUM PHOTO TAKEN? Is there anyway of finding out what the location of the brick apartment building is/was? Please help me on this. Id love to see it as it exists today. Thanks all

10:24 AM  
Blogger phillip rauls said...

The Gentry's cover album photo was taken on campus at Memphis State University on the steps of the Business Administration building. I believe the building still stands today in original form.

7:23 PM  
Blogger david said...

Philip, Thats fantastic! Thank you so much for that info! I will check out that location and take some photos for a 'then and now' comparison of the site. Im so glad to have found this site,,thanks again Philip

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the birthdays of the original members of the Gentrys?

12:48 AM  

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