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The Bobbie Gentry Tapes: fan finds unreleased recordings, possibly by vanished pop star




"Ode to Billy Joe" album cover
Capitol Records

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HERE'S ONE OF OFF-RAMP'S FAVORITE PIECES FROM 2010:

Bobbie Gentry is perhaps best known for the song "Ode to Billy Joe," which earned Gentry two Grammys in 1968. She landed her own act in Las Vegas, and a TV show on CBS. But in 1978, after appearing on The Tonight Show, Bobbie Gentry disappeared. KPCC's Alex Cohen reports that a Gentry fan discovered tantalizing traces of Gentry's early life, including tapes Gentry seems to have made before she hit it big. Listen to Alex's piece to hear those tapes, and come inside for Super-8 Gentry home movies and more!

By the way, if Bobbie Gentry is reading this right now: Off-Ramp would love to talk with you and would pledge to preserve your privacy. Just shoot an email to offramp@kpcc.org.

We've posted three pieces of audio for you. The first is Alex's piece. The second is (probably) Bobbie Gentry singing on one of the old reel-to-reel recordings from Bryan Holley's collection. The third is another one of the recordings from Bryan Holley: a group of boys holding a fart competition.

Bobbie Gentry home movies, courtesy of Bryan Holley

Bryan Holley has this to say about the Christmas video:

"Ruby (Bobbie's mother) and Bobbie LOVED Christmas, over the top both of them, and here they are. One of the unusual Bobbiebilia items I have is the libretto and test-press record from Capitol Records of her original "musical fantasy" Christmas Picturebook. This music has also probably only been heard by a very few, and is amazing because it is songs with Elf voices, singing Bobbie's original songs." The libretto is nicely leather bound, with a "To Mom" inscription signed by Bobbie.