Gary: I really remember this song, because it was a hit when I had a girl friend who lived in, all places, Washington DC. I used to go there on weekends and this song was popular at that time. I really loved the song, and that girl at the time.
Keep on Dancing/ MGM 13379/ September 1963/ #4 Billboard
Formed in 1963 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, the Gentrys forged their early reputation playing high school dances. The group – Larry Raspberry (vocals, guitar), Bruce Bowles (vocals), Jimmy Hart (vocals), Bobby Fisher (tenor saxophone, piano, guitar), Jimmy Johnson (trumpet, organ), Pat Neal (bass) and Larry Wall (drums) – later won the city’s ‘Battle Of The Bands’ contest and within months had secured a recording contract with the independent Youngstown label.
Their first release, ‘Sometimes’, was coupled with the infectious ‘Keep On Dancing’, an R&B track that attracted more interest than the A-side. The major label MGM Records picked up the national distribution rights to the single, resulting in the single reaching #4 in the US charts, subsequently selling in excess of one million copies.
The song was later covered by the Bay City Rollers, giving them their first chart hit in 1971.
The Gentrys were unable to repeat their early success, but remained a popular live attraction throughout America’s southern states.
After the break-up of the group in 1970, Jimmy Hart resuscitated the Gentrys’ name by forming a new line-up with Steve Speer (bass), Dave Beaver (keyboards), Jimmy Tarbutton (guitar) and Mike Gardner (drums). This incarnation achieved some success with minor placings in the singles chart. Late-period member Rick Allen resurfaced in The Box Tops, while Raspberry later embarked on a solo career, leading a new group, The High-Steppers.
Hart subsequently found much greater fame and success in professional wrestling as a manager and composer, nicknamed “The Mouth of the South.” During this time, he returned to music at least once, as a member of The Wrestling Boot Band, a group fronted by Hulk Hogan.
The story of the Gentrys is described in the book The Mouth of the South by Jimmy Hart, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Jerry Lawler.