Bobbie Gentry had the most gorgeous legs ever: On the record with Grammy-winning arranger Jimmie Haskell

Presenting “Patchwork,” released in September 1970 and notable for being Bobbie Gentry’s last studio album. Combining a strong set of Gentry-penned material, the record nevertheless bowed at a dismal No. 221 Pop, remaining on Billboard for only two weeks. One single was unleashed, “But I Can’t Get Back,” which accumulated slight airplay over a two-week run on the adult contemporary chart at No. 37. An adept artist and designer, Gentry possibly painted the fine cover. Image Credit: Luigi’s 50’s & 60’s Vinyl Corner / Capitol Records
In a white hand-stitched sweater embellished by Spanish leather trim, an effervescent Bobbie Gentry basks in the widespread acclaim afforded to her stunning debut, “Ode to Billie Joe,” circa November 1967. Photography possibly by Chris Walter / Viacom International

The Jimmie Haskell / Bobbie Gentry Interview [Part One]

Chris Noel, a costar in Elvis Presley’s decidedly mindless beach romp “Girl Happy,” interviews composer Jimmie Haskell for her Armed Forces Network radio show somewhere in Hollywood, California, following Haskell’s Grammy win for arranging “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1968. Image Credit: Archive Photos / Getty Images
The French single 45 cover of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” reaching No. 1 Pop, No. 17 C&W, No. 8 R&B, No. 7 Adult Contemporary, and No. 13 in England, pretty much a grand slam any which way you look at it when unleashed in July 1967. Incidentally, the acoustic guitar-driven Gentry composition spent four weeks at number one during a 14-week stay on Billboard’s pop chart. Image Credit: 45Cat user Dr. Doom / Capitol Records
Dropped in March 1969, a rare single 45 cover containing producer-songwriter Kelly Gordon’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” b/w “That’s Life.” Gordon cut the A-side before the Hollies took it to the upper echelon of the charts and actually co-wrote the B-side, a prime contender for one of Frank Sinatra’s most beloved recordings. Image Credit: 45Cat user Fred Hoyt / Capitol Records
Bobbie Gentry gets barefoot in the backyard on her trusty Martin 5–18 acoustic guitar [aka “Mini Martin] for the album cover of “Ode to Billie Joe.” Released on August 21, 1967, the LP handily shot to No. 1 Pop, No. 1 C&W, and No. 5 R&B during its 30-week sojourn on Billboard. Besides the title cut, the only follow-up single was a delicate rendering of “I Saw an Angel Die,” which inexplicably missed the charts completely. Image Credit: AllMusic / Capitol Records
Dropped in August 1968 on Tetragrammaton Records is a single 45 combining Bobby Paris’s self-penned “Per-so-nal-ly” along with a rendition of Thomas Wayne and the DeLon’s 1959 Top Five Billboard hit “Tragedy.” Barely registering at No. 129 Pop, Paris’s only additional single to see any national chart action was “Who Needs You,” a blink and you’ll miss it No. 128 Pop hit four years earlier. Image Credit: LoveSoulShack Blogspot / Universal Music Group
The stunning, artistically driven cover of “The Delta Sweete,” Bobbie Gentry’s second studio set unleashed in April 1968. Over a 12-week showing on Billboard, the record stalled at No. 132 Pop, failing to maintain the momentum accumulated from “Ode to Billie Joe.” Two singles were sent to radio — “Okolona River Bottom Band” [No. 54 Pop] and a fine cover of Doug Kershaw’s fiddle-fueled “Louisiana Man” [No. 100 Pop, No. 72 C&W]. Image Credit: iHeartRadio / Capitol Records
In the burgeoning counterculture, peace-sign affirming summer of 1967 Bobbie Gentry, better known as the “girl with the great legs” according to former boyfriend Jimmie Haskell, had the whole wide world dangling on a six-string Martin 5–18 acoustic guitar. Image Credit: Capitol Records
The Netherlands single 45 cover of Bobbie Gentry’s “Fancy” b/w “Courtyard.” While climbing to a respectable No. 31 Pop, No. 26 C&W, and No. 8 Adult Contemporary during a 14-week sojourn on Billboard, Gentry’s composition unequivocally deserved Top Ten status. Image Credit: 45Cat user Leonard / Capitol Records
Sporting a fashionable do-rag, black vest, and shades, Bobbie Gentry ponders what step to take next during a rehearsal for her self-titled BBC variety series in July 1968. Gentry and co-producer-director Stanley Dorfman painstakingly fashioned six half-hour episodes every year for three years, for a total of 18 shows spanning 1968 to 1971. Spending nine weeks in London during that span, Gentry served as “femcee” for musical contemporaries like Glen Campbell, Donovan, and James Taylor, and in the process became the first American woman to host a variety show on the BBC. Image Credit: Keystone Features / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
In a string session for Geoff Byrd’s “Shrinking Violets” album eventually released on July 26, 2005, Jimmie Haskell is seen with project producer Steve Sundholm. Byrd has opened for such pop luminaries as Hall and Oates, Stevie Wonder, and Kansas. Image Credit: The Steve Sundholm Collection
The evocative Netherlands single 45 cover of Bobbie Gentry’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” b/w “Ace Insurance Man.” When the song was released as a single on August 15, 1969 — everywhere except the USA — it became a surprise No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom for Gentry. Image Credit: 45Cat user Serooskerke2011 / Capitol Records
Son David Haskell, copyist David Ward, Jimmie Haskell, and daughter Scottie Haskell are seen in Jerusalem circa October 10, 2013, the day blind guitarist José Feliciano of “Light My Fire” and “Feliz Navidad” fame played a show at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv accompanied by the Ra’anana Symphony Orchestra. The elder Haskell served as Feliciano’s longtime musical conductor for over 40 years. Image courtesy of David Haskell
Click to hear Bobbie Gentry perform “Courtyard,” a folk-inspired fable arranged by Jimmie Haskell. Recorded on October 5, 1967, it was slotted as the ultimate track on Gentry’s second album “The Delta Sweete.” While seemingly a far-fetched idea, video from Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1957 film “Throne of Blood” sets an appropriate mood accompaniment. Watch as Samurai commander Toshiro Mifune puts his spin on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Music Credit: Capitol Records; Video Credit: YouTube user A Jungerheld / Toho Studios

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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