When American singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry first dominated radio stations and the music industry, she made a historical revolution after being one of the most notable female country artists to have written and produced her own material for her songs. Her rise to fame came after she released her Southern Gothic narrative, Ode to Billie Joe. It was 1967 then, and her song became an instant international hit that reached the highest ranks of the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Year-End Chart of 1967 charts. Bobbie became the recipient of the Grammys in 1968 for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
However, during the 1970’s, the famed female country singer chose to be a recluse and has since lived her life away from the spotlight. A lot of questions about what really happened to Bobbie Gentry have sprung left and right, but it seems none can pinpoint the truth about the kind of life she had been living since she had stepped off the stage.
Her disappearance from the world of entertainment was just too abrupt that perhaps fans were not given the chance to prepare for her sudden goodbye. With letters turning up all over asking about Bobbie Gentry’s whereabouts, it seemed as if seeking the renowned artist had become a legitimate career, especially for journalists.
There have been various accounts claiming Bobbie Gentry’s location. A message from a woman named Patricia said, “Last we heard she was living in the San Fernando Valley—Los Angeles.” Another sender claimed that Bobbie had been living there, perhaps in 2015. “She’s quite often at Publix or Kroger near her home. No one bothers her. She appears to be in good health.”
A woman, whose name is Judith, said she married Bobbie Gentry’s uncle and had been with him for over 40 years. She adds in her account that she became good friends with the singer and that the latter would fly her with her husband and her mother to Las Vegas countless times. It was in Vegas where they bonded as a family during the weekends and watch Bobbie’s shows. They were even present during the wedding reception of Bobbie’s marriage to Bill Harrah.
Judith dropped another highly detailed and mystifying detail, “Shortly after her mother’s death, Bobbie was in Carson City, Nevada, visiting her stepfather. He called us and said Bobbie was on her way to the Reno airport but would be stopping at our place shortly. She never showed up and we never heard from her nor were we able to contact her again. I have made numerous attempts over the years to contact her to no avail. I love her dearly and can’t even begin to imagine why we are estranged.”
A documentary titled, Whatever Happened To Bobbie Gentry? was produced in 2012 by BBC Radio. Then, in June, the elusive singer was finally tracked by a reporter from Washington Post. Bobbie Gentry was spotted at a $1.5 million house in a gated community situated about 2 hours away from the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Despite the puzzle of Bobbie Gentry’s current location being solved, journalists from all over are still clamoring for that highly coveted yet extremely and tactfully avoided one-on-one interview. Although there had been reports of Gentry contacting old acquaintances in music, it never really got far since it was discovered that Bobbie would immediately cancel all her arranged appointments.
Others have begun to conclude that maybe Bobbie Gentry had simply grown tired of the entire process involved in the music industry and that she had other motives for sharing her talent other than basking in the sparkly spotlight of fame. There could have been a feeling of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment with how the music business and all the money involved can take a toll on one’s creative freedom and artistic expression.