Henry Gross and His Hit “Shannon”

Introduction to Henry Gross

Henry Gross (born in 1951 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American singer and songwriter who became prominent in the 70s music scene. At just 18, he was the guitarist and one of the founding members of the rock group Sha Na Na. In 1970 he went solo and inked a deal with Dunhill Records that same year, and in 1973 jumped to A&M Records. His self-titled second album (released on A&M) did well and yielded a single “Come on Say It,” a regional hit. Gross then moved to Lifesong label, where he eventually released his most successful self-penned single “Shannon” in 1976. It went to the Top 10 pop charts that year, and became a global smash. Gross then continued to record and release other singles on Lifesong, including his only other Top 40 single “Springtime Mama.” Although he never reached higher chart positions again, Gross has continued writing and recording songs, having also established his own label Zelda Records, where he first released his own self-produced album Nothing but Dreams in 1993. His latest work released on Zelda was Edwards, Gross and Paul which Gross performed with other musicians Jonathan Edwards and Henry Paul.

Early life

American singer-songwriter Henry Gross was born on April 1, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York. Gross began playing in local clubs around New York and every summer at Catskill Mountains resort hotels at 14. While attending Brooklyn College, he joined the rock and roll group Sha Na Na as a guitarist when he was 18.

Around 1970, Gross left Sha Na Na and began pursuing a solo career. After a year, he was signed on ABC Dunhill Records where he worked as a sessionist for producers Tommy West and Terry Cashman. On Jim Croce album, I Got a Name, Gross played all the electric guitar parts. By that time, he released his own debut album but it failed to sell. However, he was still playing at night clubs and colleges.

Gross at A&M Records

In 1974, Gross achieved considerable success with his first self-titled A&M album. The singles from the album such as “Simone,” “Come on Say It,” “Skin King” and “Meet Me on the Corner” (a Landisfarne original) became regional hits. The following year, he released his second A&M album, Plug Me into Something. Consequently, he achieved national recognition in Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

Gross with his only Top 10 hit “Shannon”

By 1976, Gross was now a recording artist of Lifelong Records where he produced his own single, “Shannon.” The song was about the deceased Irish Setter owned by Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys. “Shannon” became a huge success, peaking at #6 on the US charts, #32 in the UK  and  #1 in Canada.

After of “Shannon,”’s success, Gross issued the album Release. The second single “Springtime Mama” made the Top 40 at #37. He released a follow-up LP Show Me to the Stage in 1977. He did not release singles from the album however the sales was acceptable. He also did a recording of The Beatles’ “Help!” for All This and World War II in 1976.

Gross’ later years and present activity

In the 1980’s, Gross’ hits began to dry up but he continued to be active in the music business. Around that time, he became a part of Pump Boys and Dinettes, a road company production featuring Jonathan Edwards and Nicolette Larson. In 1986, he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and signed a publishing deal with Roger Cook and Ralph Murphy, owners of Pic-A-Lic Music.

In the 1990s, Gross established his own label which he named Zelda Records, after his own mother. He also kept himself busy writing and recording in Nashville On Zelda, he released his albums Nothing But Dreams in 1993 and I’m Hearing Things in 2001.

Gross still performs up to this day. He is also the author of a one-man show called “One Hit Wonderer” where he narrates the highlights and funniest moments of his life as a singer and a human being.

Along with multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer John McClane, Gross recorded several records in 2000’s: One Hit Wonderer (2006), Foreverland (2007), Rhyme and Misdemeanors and Right As Rain (2011). His latest project was in 2011 where he released a trio album with Jonathan Edwards and Henry Paul, Edwards, Gross & Paul.