Lobo is a singer-songwriter born in Tallahassee, Florida. Starting his career playing with numerous bands like the Rumors (which included future country stars Gram parsons and Jim Stafford), the Sugar Beats, Lavoie released his first solo record in 1969. By 1971 Lavoie became Lobo and scored his first big hit “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”, under Big Tree Records. He went on the score more hits like “I’d Love You To Want Me” (his biggest charting single) and “Don’t Expect Me To Be Your Friend” and other handful of Top 40 hits. Although he would record for Curb Records and after that, his own label Lobo Records (later would become Evergreen), his chart-making magic gradually dissipated. However, Lobo’s growing popularity in Asia fueled his 1989 comeback. He released his first album in a decade, Am I Going Crazy, released in Taiwan. Lobo was also involved and recorded for other Asian labels PonyCanyon Records and Springroll Entertainment, releasing re-recordings of his old hits as well as covers and other pop standards. As his popularity in Asia solidified, Lobo toured around Southeast Asia in 2006.
Early life and music career
Roland Kent LaVoie, aka Lobo, was born in Tallahassee, Florida on July 31, 1943, and was raised in a nearby town, Winter Haven. When he was about seventeen years old, LaVoie joined a local band called The Rumours. The band also included future stars Gram Parsons and Jim Stafford; the Rumours’ drummer Jon Corneal would also be a member of Parson’s own future outfit International Submarine Band.
From there LaVoie entered the University of South Florida. While in college, he became part of the band called the Sugar Beats. They were attaining success but only on the regional circles, helped by their cover of a Johnny Rivers original “What Am I Doing Here.” LaVoie also joined in many other groups including Me and the Other Guys, US Male and The Uglies, all of which also attained only regional success and recognition.
Solo career as Lobo
Sugar Beats member Phil Gernhard was also a record producer. LaVoie was signed to Laurie Records in 1969. On that label he issued his first solo record which contained the songs “Happy Days in New York City” b/w “My Friend Is Here.”
Gernhard, who was an executive at Big Tree Records, signed LaVoie to his label in 1971. By that period, he began to call himself Lobo, which is a Spanish word for “wolf.” The label released Lobo’s first single “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” that year. It went all the way #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and topped the adult contemporary singles chart. It also went to #4 on the UK singles chart. “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was obviously a success, and it also became the label’s first big hit record. That same year Lobo also released his debut album,Introducing Lobo where the hit single was also included.
The album’s other single “She Didn’t Do Magic”/”I’m The Only One” only reached #46 on the Hot 100 (#14 on the adult contemporary singles chart).
Lobo released his second LP Of A Simple Man in 1972. The album featured another Top 10 pop hit single “I’d Love You To Want Me” which almost topped the Hot 100 at #2. It gave Lobo his second #1 adult contemporary hit, while it peaked at #5 on the UK singles chart.
Another single off Of A Simple Man, “Don’t Expect Me to Be Your Friend,” became Lobo’s third Top Ten pop hit, peaking at #8. It was also his third #1 adult contemporary hit.
Lobo issued his third album Calumet in 1973. It yielded three Top 40 pop singles “it Sure Took a Long, Long Time” (#27 pop, #3 adult contemporary), “How Can I Tell Her” (#22 pop, #4 adult contemporary), and “Standing at the End of the Line” (#37 pop, #25 adult contemporary). By the way, Lobo wrote all the aforementioned hits.
Lobo released his fourth LP Just A Singer in 1974. As the title might suggest, it was Lobo’s first album not made of up self-penned material. One of its singles, “Rings,” was written by Alex Harvey and Eddie Reeves; it went to only #43 on the pop chart but it became another Top 10 adult contemporary hit, making his mark yet again in the soft rock territory.
Lobo’s fifth album A Cowboy Afraid of Horses (1975) was to be his last LP with Big Tree. It featured another Top 40 hit “Don’t Tell Me Goodnight” which went to #27 pop and #2 adult contemporary.
A 1979 non-album single “Where Were You When I Was Falling in Love?” gave Lobo his fourth and final adult contemporary #1 hit. It was also his last Top 40 single, at #23. That same year he released his self-titled final album.
The singer’s decline, retirement and return; popularity in Asia
As the decade wore on, Lobo’s commercial impact was lessening. He released subsequent records for Curb Records, Philips and MCA before establishing his own imprint Lobo Records in 1981. Four years later it was re-named Evergreen Records.
In the mid-1980s Lobo retired from the limelight, but late in the decade his songs rose to popularity in Asia. This prompted him to record again and release his new album in a decade, Am I Going Crazy, which was released in Taiwan. His popularity in the Asia was (and is still) going strong, and he has signed two recording contracts in Taiwan as well as in Singapore (Springroll Entertainment and PonyCanyon Records), releasing albums for the Far East market only. In addition to his old hits and new songs, Lobo has also covered pop standards. In 2006 he also embarked on a Southeast Asian tour. In 2008 he released his latest studio album so far, Out of Time, on Lobo Records. The album contained classic Lobo tunes as well as new tracks.