Soul singer Dobie Gray dies aged 71
Soul icon and ‘Drift Away’ singer Dobie Gray has died at the age of 71.
The news came via his official website late last night, although cause of death is yet to be listed.
Warmly remembered for his smooth and classy style, Dobie Gray had several chart hits such as The ‘in’ Crowd and Out On The Floor. Much of his material, still found regularly on Northern Soul set lists were staples of the British Mod scene.
The singer, real name Laurence Darrow Brown, was raised on a farm in Houston and discovered gospel music through his grandfather, a Baptist minister. In the early Sixties he moved to Los Angeles where he met Sonny Bono and went on to sign a record deal with small independent Stripe Records.
Drift Away, was one of the biggest hits of 1973, selling over one million copies. It has been covered by an array of musicians including Roy Orison, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings and Michael Bolton.
The most famous contemporary version was by American rocker Unkle Kracker, who covered it on his No Stranger to Shame album. The track, which was a collaboration with Gray himself, reached Number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart for a record-breaking 28 weeks.
Tweeting about the death, Kracker said: “My heart goes out to Dobie’s family this evening. RIP Dobie Gray. Thank you for the music. You will not be forgotten.”
Ironically, Gray’s last website update was in March 2010, where he paid his respects to several deceased stars, including Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and Patrick Swayze. In an impassioned message, the singer wrote: “Here’s wishing all of you the very best of everything that life has to offer. From strength to strength! Live every day to the fullest and stay lifted. Better days are ahead!”