- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 15 June 2016, 1:52PM
Music fans know the importance of June 3.
“It was the 3rd of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.”
That is the opening line of one of music’s most appreciated songs — Ode to Billie Joe, written and performed by Bobbie Gentry.
Ode to Billie Joe was selected by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 500 songs of all time. It went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and cracked the Top 10 on the Easy Listening and R&B charts. Billboard also rated it the No. 3 song of 1967.
She was only 22 when she recorded it. The tune earned Gentry three Grammy Awards — Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female; Best Solo Vocal Performance, Female; Best New Artist.
Right about now you are probably expecting a quote from Bobbie Gentry about the success of the song, what inspired her to write it, and what was it the girl and Billie Joe threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge? And why did he jump to his death off that bridge? And what is she doing now?
But we do not have any quotes from Gentry.
has been chasing Bobbie Gentry for years, longer than any person he has chased in his newspaper career. He finally reached her brother via email a few years ago. He said to write her an email, send it to him and he would make sure she got it. Billy did, and he believes her brother did his part. But he never heard from her.
He's not alone in his quest to find the singer/songwriter though. Gentry had two hits with Glen Campbell.
When Billy called Campbell’s management team a decade or so ago, he was told: “We haven’t heard from her in years and have no idea where she is. If you find her, please tell her to call us. We would love to talk to her.”
From everything Billy has been told by people in the music business, Gentry is living a secluded life in Los Angeles. Her last known performance was on Christmas night 1978 on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and on Bob Hope’s 1981 All-star Salute to Mother’s Day.
She married country star Jim Stafford in October 1978, and they had a son. But the marriage lasted just a month shy of a year.
Legendary producer Rick Hall said, “I can sort of understand why she quit music and went into seclusion. She had a lot of bad memories of the music business. She didn’t like the way things worked with record companies and all that. Didn’t like what she was getting paid.
“I’ve tried every way in the world to get in touch with her, but she simply won’t accept calls.”