Stumbled upon this incredible photograph today of 69-year-young Bobbie Gentry from 2014 – seemingly her only public photo taken since 1985. The pic arrives from this dull article at Boyd Gaming, a naff Casino company, promoting the latest signee to its “Corporate E-Commerce team” Robert Streeter (pictured right), Gentry’s band guitarist and production manager in the 70s. She receives a fleeting mention in the article with the photo tacked on insignificantly at the bottom – perhaps the boys at Boyd weren’t aware that even a mere glimpse of her these days for music fans is akin to witnessing Elvis rise from the grave.
Unlike her contemporaries Gale Garnett and Margo Guryan (whose ‘Sunday Morning’ track Gentry covered with Glen Campbell), who similarly canned their music careers but continue to give interviews and connect with their fanbases, Gentry has been unrelenting in her reclusiveness since the 80s, refusing interviews, appearances and even denying her own existance. Did Boyd upload the photo without realising the significance? Did Streeter provide it to them by some mistake? Who knows, but it’s heartening to see her alive and well.
Gentry is most known for her ’67 bluesy folk hit ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, but I prefer her 1971 swansong LP ‘Patchwork’ – a blissful hodgepodge of brassy Bacharach, clip-clop country and soaring soft rock ballads.