8 Dec 2011

Singer-songwriter Dobie Gray dies

9:37 pm on 8 December 2011

American singer and songwriter Dobie Gray has died at his home in Nashville, aged 71.

His hits included Drift Away and The In Crowd, but he also wrote songs for stars including Ray Charles, Julio Iglesias and Tammy Wynette.

Dobie Gray's own style embraced soul, country, pop and musical theatre, the BBC reports.

In the 1970s, he was among the first black singers to be allowed to play to multi-racial audiences in apartheid South Africa.

The news was announced on the singer's official website, although no cause of death was given.

Drift Away sold more than 1 million copies in the United States and has since been covered by scores of artists including Rod Stewart and Michael Bolton.

Gray, whose real name was Laurence Darrow Brown, was born near Houston to a family of sharecroppers and discovered gospel music through his grandfather, a Baptist minister.