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Sept 19, 2019: The Tennessean: What happened to singer Bobbie Gentry?
It was the 3rd of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.”
That is the opening line of one of music’s most discussed, examined and appreciated songs — “Ode to Billie Joe,” written and performed by Bobbie Gentry, who was born in Mississippi’s Chickasaw County. When her parents divorced and her mother left for California, Gentry moved in with her grandparents in Leflore County, near Greenwood.
"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.
Oct 17, 2018: The Guardian: Bobbie Gentry: whatever happened to the trailblazing queen of country?
The 60s star – who didn’t just write her own songs but had her own TV show, made her own clothes and painted her own album art – could count Elvis and, later, Taylor Swift as fans. So why did she retire from public view in 1981?
Aug 27, 2017: Rolling Stone: The Secret Life of Bobbie Gentry, Pioneering Artist Behind ‘Ode to Billie Joe’
In July of 1967, Capitol Records released “Ode to Billie Joe,” a spooky wisp of a song by an unknown artist named Bobbie Gentry. Industry wisdom said “Ode” was too dark, too long, too different to get played on the radio. It was a smash hit. With no special promotion, the song unexpectedly climbed up the charts past the Doors, Aretha Franklin and the Beatles, ultimately knocking “All You Need is Love” out of the Number One spot. By August, the mysterious tale of Billie Joe McAllister jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge was ubiquitous, the inescapable sound of the darkening days of the so-called Summer of Love.
June 2, 2016: Washington Post: Whatever happened to Bobbie Gentry? In search of country music’s great vanished star.
It’s the third of June. Somewhere in Mississippi, it’s another sleepy, dusty delta day. Since the summer of 1967, when the Southern gothic ballad “Ode to Billie Joe,” set on this day in that place, first hit the airwaves, the song has captivated American pop culture in a way few ever have.
Written and sung by an unknown young woman from Mississippi named Bobbie Gentry, it was an eerie, minor-key mystery about an unnamed young woman and her family sitting around a farm dinner table discussing, in elliptical terms, the suicide of Billie Joe McAllister.