Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: More than once I have seen it stated as a fact, that David Gates, of Bread, recorded in the 1950s using the name of Jennie and Jay. If true, then he must have been Jay, so who was Jennie?

I do not have Internet access, so I'm relying on you to settle this rumor once and for all?
—Angie Westmoreland, Council Bluffs, Iowa

DEAR ANGIE: Chronologically, this is the real story behind David Gates' first record, and how Jennie and Jay understandably got tangled up in the tale.

In 1957, Tulsa-born David Gates, then 16, wrote "Jo-Baby" about his teenage girlfriend, Jo Rita, whom he later married. The original recording came out in early 1958 on Perspective Sound (121057500/121057501), a Tulsa based label, backed with "Lovin' at Night." Reportedly only 1,200 were pressed on Perspective Sound. Both sides credit "The Accents - Vocal By David Gates." At this time, Leon Russell was a member of these Accents.

In July 1958, the two tracks on Perspective Sound were picked up by Robbins, a Nashville label. For their release, the credit is shown as "David Gates & the Accents." They also reversed the A- and B-sides. However, when Billboard reviewed the record (July 14, 1958) they listed "Jo-Baby" as the top side, and gave it a slightly higher score:

1. "Jo-Baby" - "Rockaballad is whispered effectively in wistful style by chanter." *71*
2. "Lovin at Night" - "Gates gives his own blues a nice rocker beat." *70*

Meanwhile in Baltimore, Pat and Joe Ritter somehow became aware of the Robbins single, and they recorded their versions of both "Jo-Baby" and "Lovin' at Night."

Recording as Jennie and Jay, that single came out in 1959, on Rescue Records (#102), and on Town (#1963), both small Baltimore labels.

For the Town release, the new A-side was "Then I'll Stop Loving You," by Jennie and Jay, backed with "Jo-Baby," credited only to Jay Ritter.

Anyone who hears Jennie and Jay's tunes would know instantly they are not David Gates using a pseudonym.

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