Henry Gross (photo by Charlie Samuels)
|Born||April 1, 1951|
|Origin||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, record label executive|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, ukulele, electric sitar, percussion|
|Labels||Zelda Records (presently)|
|Associated acts||Sha Na Na|
Henry Gross (born April 1, 1951) is an American singer-songwriter best known for his association with the group Sha Na Na and for his hit song, "Shannon". He was the youngest person, at age 18, to play on the main stage at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969.
Gross was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. His mother's love for music encouraged his pursuit of a performing career. By age 14, he was playing regularly in local clubs in the New York area, and spending his summers playing at Catskill Mountains resort hotels.
Gross broke from Sha Na Na to become a solo singer-songwriter in 1970. He signed a recording contract with ABC Dunhill Records in 1971. While there he did some session work for producers Tommy West and Terry Cashman. He played electric lead guitar on the Jim Croce, album, I Got A Name. His own debut album had little commercial success. He continued to play at clubs and colleges until, in 1973, he was signed with A&M Records.
His first self-titled A&M album sold well. It made several regional hits including "Simone," "Come On Say It," "Skin King," and a cover version of Lindisfarne's European hit, "Meet Me on the Corner". Gross' second A&M album was Plug Me Into Something. He began to achieve national recognition in Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Gross moved on to Lifesong Records to make his next album. He produced a single, "Shannon", a song written about the death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson's Irish Setter of the same name. The single went gold based on US sales alone, and became a worldwide hit, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976. In Canada, it reached #1 in May of the same year. It peaked at #32 in the UK Singles Chart. After this single's success, Gross released the album, Release. His second single, "Springtime Mama", reached #37 in the US. On his next album, Show Me to the Stage, Gross mixed rock and roll songs with Phil Spector and Brian Wilson influences. While the album sold well, it provided no hit singles. He also recorded The Beatles song "Help!" for the documentary, All This and World War II; both occurred in 1976. Gross' recording career slowed, but with CBS Records he made "Love Is the Stuff" and with Capitol Records, in 1981, along with Bobby Colomby, produced the What's in a Name album.
In the 1980s, Gross performed in the road company production of Pump Boys and Dinettes, with a cast featuring Jonathan Edwards and Nicolette Larson. Gross moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1986 and signed a publishing deal with Pic-A-Lic Music, a company owned by Roger Cook and Ralph Murphy.
The Casey Kasem incident
"Shannon" is remembered for being the subject of a profanity-laced tirade by American Top 40 host Casey Kasem, while recording the September 14, 1985 show. A listener from Cincinnati, Ohio had requested "Shannon" as a 'Long-Distance Dedication' (a regular feature of the show) to his own recently deceased dog, named "Snuggles." Kasem was upset that the show's producers had placed the dedication immediately following the Pointer Sisters' hit "Dare Me", an up-tempo song that he considered a poor lead-in to a sad song such as "Shannon". This did not originally air in the broadcast. The outtakes were distributed years later and wound up on Negativland's "U2".
Gross continued his song writing and recording career in Nashville. In 1993, he released the album, Nothing But Dreams, on his own record label, Zelda Records, named after his mother. He has had worldwide hits as an artist and writer, including "Shannon" (1976) and more recently "Big Guitar", a Top 40 Country Radio hit for the Arista recording group, Blackhawk, fronted by his good friend, Henry Paul. Gross released I'm Hearing Things on Zelda Records in 2001. He has also written and currently performs a one man show called "One Hit Wanderer", chronicling the highlights and funniest moments of his life in and out of the entertainment business.
He continues to record in Fort Myers, Florida with multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer John McLane producing four albums with 74 tracks: One Hit Wanderer (2006), Foreverland (2007) and "Rhymes and Misdemeanors" and "Right As Rain" (2011). There was a single, "What a Christmas," the same year. As a further accomplishment he released a trio album with Jonathan Edwards and Henry Paul, titled "Edwards, Gross & Paul" also in 2011.
- Henry Gross (1972) ABC Dunhill Records
- Henry Gross (1973) A&M Records (A.K.A. "The Yellow Album")
- Plug Me Into Something (1975) A&M Records
- Release (1976) Lifesong Records
- Show Me To The Stage (1977) Lifesong Records
- Love Is The Stuff (1978) Lifesong Records
- What's In A Name (1981) Capitol Records
- I Keep On Rockin' (1987) Sonet Records (Currently available on Zelda Records)
- She's My Baby (1989) Sonet Records (Currently available on Zelda Records)
- Nothing But Dreams (1992) Zelda Records
- One More Tomorrow/ The best of Henry Gross 70's recordings (1996) Varese Sarabande Records
- I'm Hearing Things (2000/2001) Zelda Records
- One Hit Wanderer (2006) Zelda Records
- Foreverland (2007) Zelda Records
- Rhymes and Misdemeanors (2011) Zelda Records
- Right As Rain (2011) Zelda Records
- Edwards, Gross & Paul (2011) Zelda Records / trio with Jonathan Edwards and Henry Paul