Soul/R&B crooner Dobie Gray — his real name has been listed as both Leonard Victor Ainsworth and Laurence Darrow Brown — died yesterday, Dec. 6, of unknown causes. He was 71.
Gray’s career began with a string of singles in the early-to-mid 1960s. Most notably, he scored his first real hit in 1965 with “The ‘In’ Crowd,” which reached number 13 on the Billboard singles chart. It has since been covered by a slew of artists, from the Mamas and the Papas to Quincy Jones.
But it was a cover of another of Gray’s tracks that would score him so new fans in the early 2000s. That’s not to say his original take on “Drift Away” didn’t have its own success. The 1973 single was the biggest of his career, reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and remains in the rotation of classic rock stations across the country. As was alluded to earlier, though, it’s our younger readers who likely remember “Drift Away” as Uncle Kracker’s impossible-to-avoid 2003 single.
You can watch Gray perform “Out on the Floor,” from 1966, and “Drift Away,” from 1974, below. Rest in peace. [HR]