Fabulous Flip Sides In Memoriam – Don Williams and Troy Gentry

On September 8, we lost two country music stars from two generations, Don Williams, who we first heard as a member of the Pozo-Seco Singers in 1966, and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry, who debuted in the Top 100 in 1999. Goldmine spoke with a member of the Pozo-Seco Singers and we highlight flip sides from both groups.

By Warren Kurtz

Don Williams and Troy Gentry, album photos

The Pozo-Seco Singers

Flip side: It Ain’t Worth the Lonely Road Back

A side: I’ll Be Gone

Top 100 debut: June 18, 1966

Peak position: 92

Columbia 43437

Don Williams on the left

In the mid-‘60s, Columbia found a male-female folk trio, who they thought could compete with Warner Brothers’ Peter, Paul & Mary. In Corpus Christi, Texas, a trio named the Pozo-Seco Singers had a regional hit in 1965 on the small Edmark label called “Time.” It was soft, simple, and beautifully sung by Susan Taylor with harmonies from Don Williams and Lofton Kline. Columbia picked up the single and it went to number 47 in early 1966. The label released the trio’s first album called “Time,” and in the bottom right corner it read “Featuring: I’ll Be Gone,” which was their next single. That right-hand corner also listed the other songs on the album, mostly covers, including “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

The summer of ‘66’s “I’ll Be Gone” was more up-tempo than “Time.” It’s flip side was another “leaving song” to match the A side called “It Ain’t Worth the Lonely Road Back,” written by Alan Klein, who had placed two of his compositions with Freddie & the Dreamers in his native England. With Don Williams singing a deep and rich lead vocal in ¾ time, and the placement here as a flip side, and as the second song on the album, audiences could experience an early taste of this future country star. Susan Taylor, now known as Taylor Pie told Goldmine, “Don and I both loved that song when we first heard it somewhere in New York City. We kept it in our song list for a few years.”

The next album, “I Can Make It With You,” featured the up-tempo title song which became a pop hit, with a similar catchiness that We Five brought to Ian & Sylvia’s “You Were On My Mind.” The next single from the album, “Look What You’ve Done,” recalling the sound of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” from their debut album, matched the chart position of its predecessor.

From the late ‘60s through the early ‘70s, the Pozo-Seco Singers released two more albums. After the Pozo-Seco Singers disbanded, Don Williams scored seventeen number one hits on the country charts from 1974 through 1986.

On November 15, 1980, the “Urban Cowboy” year, there were four country male crossover hits in the pop Top 40. Lionel Richie’s composition “Lady,” performed by Kenny Rogers, was number one. Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” reached its peak position that week at number 20. Waylon Jennings, at number 30, was climbing the chart with “Theme From ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ (Good Ol’ Boys).” Debuting at number 40 that week was Don Williams’ final time in the pop Top 40 with his relaxing song “I Believe in You,” which would peak at number 24.

In 2014, Don Williams’ final album, “Reflections,” was released, featuring the single “I’ll Be Here in the Morning.”

“Don had such a distinctive voice,” Taylor Pie concluded. “No one sounded quite like him. Rest in peace, Don.”

Montgomery Gentry

Flip side: Gone

A side: If You Ever Stop Loving Me

Top 100 debut: April 17, 2004

Peak position: 30

Columbia 71847

Just a few months after the Pozo-Seco Singers’ “Look What You’ve Done” left the charts in early 1967, future country star Troy Gentry was born in Kentucky.

From 1988 through 1991, the Kentucky female duo, the Judds, held a four-year consecutive streak as the CMA Vocal Duo of the Year. In 1992, when Wynonna Judd went solo with “No One Else on Earth” and the new duo Brooks & Dunn debuted with “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” the CMA Vocal Duo of the Year award went to Brooks & Dunn who held this honor, with a streak, twice as long as that of the Judds, until broken by a new Kentucky duo, Montgomery Gentry.

In 1999, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry debuted with the album “Tattoos & Scars,” which brought five singles to the country Top 40, beginning with “Hillbilly Shoes.” The duo’s fifth album, “You Do Your Thing” gave the group their first number one country hit “If You Ever Stop Loving Me,” which was also their highest charting pop hit, reaching number 30 in 2004. With many working jukeboxes still playing oldies singles, Columbia released a vinyl 45 version of “If You Ever Stop Loving Me” with “Gone,” also from the “You Do Your Thing” album, as its flip side. The next single from the album was its title tune, and the third single from the album was “Gone.” So many copies of the vinyl single were sold due to this flip side that “Gone” was certified as a gold record.

On “Gone,” Troy Gentry opened with the lines, “This ain’t no temporary, typical, tearful goodbye” and “this ain’t no breakin’ up and wakin’ up and makin’ up one more time.” There was the playful trading off of “gone” notes with Troy Gentry’s upper vocal range offset by Eddie Montgomery’s rich baritone on the build line, “She’s gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone, she’s gone.” Then together on the chorus they listed all the gone comparisons, “Gone like a freight train, gone like yesterday” and more. “Gone” reached number 3 on the country chart and number 53 on the pop chart. Montgomery Gentry reached the country Top 10 fifteen times on the Columbia label. Brooks & Dunn continued with hits in this era too, along with the next successful male duo, Big & Rich.

In 2011, Montgomery Gentry left Columbia for Colt Ford’s Average Joes label and released the album “Rebels on the Run.” Its single, “Where I Come From,” shared the catchiness of Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker’s “When the Sun Goes Down” and brought the duo back to the country Top 10. Since that album, another male vocal duo, Florida Georgia Line, debuted and received the CMA Vocal Duo award for three consecutive years.

Montgomery Gentry’s latest album is “Folks Like Us” on the Blaster label from mid-2015. The duo returned to the Average Joes label to record their next album, to be released in the coming months, including the new single “Better Me.” Their final performance was Labor Day Weekend in Florida. The following weekend, Troy Gentry and a pilot died in a helicopter crash in New Jersey heading to what would have been their next concert. Fellow country stars quickly reacted online. John Rich of Big & Rich offered “big prayers” and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line wrote of “heavy hearts.” Country performer and co-founder of Average Joes Entertainment Colt Ford said, “Troy was a gifted artist and a fine human being.” On September 14, a memorial service was held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

Troy Gentry on the right

Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine, known for “Fabulous Flip Sides” along with interviews, CD, DVD and book reviews. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, on WVCR.com as part of “Moments to Remember.”

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