To celebrate the upcoming release of our 102nd 33 1/3 on  Ode to Billie Joe by Tara Murtha, we bring you the third installment of Bobbie Gentry week.

When “Ode to Billie Joe” was released in the summer of 1967, everyone wanted to know more about Bobbie Gentry, the beautiful girl who became famous singing a spooky ballad about Billie Joe McAllister jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Like the song itself, it seemed Gentry came out of nowhere, a country girl who strolled into a Los Angeles recording studio with a guitar on her back and a dark tale to tell.

Like most overnight sensations, Gentry’s fame was an opportunity that knocked only after long years of hard work. As Gentry often told reporters, she began singing professionally when she was 11 years old, and moved to California when she was 13 years old. In college in Los Angeles…

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