Drift Away – Dobie Gray – 1973

Dobie gray drift away single coverDobie Gray’s biggest hit, 1973’s Drift Away, is one of the most live-covered songs of all time!

dobie gray rip

Drift Away is pretty well indispensable as a part of the staple diet of any self-respecting classic hits station but this week its playing accompanied the sad news that its singer, Dobie Gray, had passed away aged 71.

more to dobie than meets the eye

Dobie was one of those guys who had been around forever. He’d sung, written songs, appeared on stage, acted, but without ever quite making superstar status. And, he had associations with some pretty random people.

He was originally encouraged in his singing by Sonny Bono. He was in a band managed by Max Baer Jr – who played Jethro in The Beverly Hillbillies. He worked with A&M Records, producing demos for the songwriter Paul Williams.

Following his minimal solo success he choose to focus on his song-writing. His songs were recorded by, among others, Ray Charles, George Jones, Johnny Mathis and Charley Pride.

Dobie performed in South Africa a number of times but, in the mid 70s suddenly declared that he would continue doing so only if he could play to integrated audiences. The authorities agreed and he became the first artist to play in South Africa to a mixed audience. As such he became a popular and much revered music figure in that nation.

dobie’s death

Dobie passed away at his Nashville home on December 6, 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

drift away fax

  • Drift Away was written by Paul Williams’ brother Mentor.
  • Drift Away was originally recorded in 1972, by John Henry Kurtz.
  • Drift Away was Dobie Gray’s biggest hit. It peaked at #5 on the US singles chart. While it charted in a number of other countries, it did not chart at all in the UK.
  • Drift Away is of the most live covered songs – artists seem to love singing it as part of their encore set.
  • Artists to cover Drift Away include Roy Orbison, Ike and Tina Turner, Humble Pie, Rod Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Neville Brothers, Michael Bolton, Ringo Starr The Rolling Stones and The Heptones.,
  • Uncle Kracker released a version in 2003 featuring Dobie singing the final verse. It peaked at #9 on the US Singles chart. This thirty year gap set a record for the biggest gap between top ten performances by an artist. This version also holds the record for the longest run at the top of the US Adult Contemporary chart. It spent 28 weeks at #1 in 2003-04.
  • There is a rumour that Drift Away was originally written for Elvis Presley. When he head Dobie Gray’s demo of the song he turned it down.
  • Drift Away lyrics.

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drift away – dobie gray – 1973


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