The Gentrys were a 1960s to 1970s American rock and roll/psychedelic rock band, best known for their 1965 hit “Keep On Dancing.” In 1965, the Gentrys hit it big with “Keep On Dancing,” which rose to the Top 10 and became a million seller. However, their following singles, although performing adequately, never duplicated the success of “Keep On Dancing.” Jimmy Hart tried to keep the band together took the lead vocals, but the band didn’t sustain the success. Post-Gentrys, Raspberry played in more garage and soul bands, while Hart found his second career in pro wrestling business as a manager and composer; he was even dubbed as “The Mouth Of The South.”
The original lineup of the Gentrys
The Gentrys were an American pop, psychedelic rock and rock and roll band of the 1960s and the 1970s, hailing from Memphis Tennessee.
The original lineup consisted of Bruce Bowles (vocals), Jimmy Hart (vocals), Bobby Fisher (saxophone), Jimmy Johnson (trumpet), Pat Neal (bass guitar), Larry Wall (drums). All were alumni from Treadwell High School in Memphis, Tennessee, where the group was formed in 1963. Soon this rock ‘n roll group had a success playing on high school dances. After winning a local contest the Gentrys became one of the most popular teenage bands at that time. They first signed to a local record label and their single “Sometimes” became a regional hit.
Keep on Dancing”
The group’s first hit single was “Keep on Dancing” which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. Soon the band became a bit busier, appearing on Hullabaloo, Shindig!and Where The Action Is. They shared the stage with The Beach Boys and Sonny and Cher, as well as in shows hosted by Dick Clark.
However, following singles tanked, and after their appearance in the 1965 celluloid It’s a Bikini World, the Gentrys disbanded. At the time of their breakup, the other members were Claude Wayne Whitehead (rhythm guitar), Ronnie Moore (bass), Sonny Pitman (bass). The group’s engineer and producer Terry Manning also provided the keyboards.
The group’s second incarnation, and eventual dissolution; Post-Gentrys career of some of the members
Original member Jimmy Hart re-formed the Gentrys in 1969, with himself as lead vocalist. The first label they went to was Bell Records soon after they were re-formed. Newer members include bassist Steve Spear, keyboardist David Beaver, guitarist Jimmy Tarbutton, and drummer Mike Gardner.
In 1970 the group moved to Sun label. Under the imprint, they scored decent hits like “Why Should I Cry” (#61, pop) and “Cinnamon Girl” (#52 pop). The group recorded the “Cinnamon Girl” before Neil Young’s version came out, which is somewhat funny considering it’s Young’s own composition (and the Gentry’s version charted slightly better than his own did).
The group went on to have other minor successes, but didn’t last long. Post-Gentrys, Hart eventually found success in professional wrestling (which is rather unlikely!). He also did fairly well as a composer and manager. He was even dubbed as “The Mouth Of The South,” his wrestling alter-ego. Raspberry, meanwhile, continued his career playing for several more garage and soul acts. He subsequently formed his own group Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers, who is still active today.
A current lineup with the name The Gentrys is a family quartet of gospel singers. They aren’t related to the Gentrys we’re talking about here, in case you are confused.