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Phoenix Suns, Bobbie Gentry, and Billie Joe McAllister
In 1987 Jerry Colangelo led an investment group that purchased the Phoenix Suns 44.5 million. The N.B.A. in 1968 issued the franchise to Phoenix and Milwaukee for 2 Million each. There stands a good chance even as a minority owner Bobbie Gentry made a good investment.
In 1967 the song “Ode to Billie Joe” had all of the world talking. Bobbie Gentry had a sensual, Southern-fried voice that in the song talks about two Mississippi teenage lovers who share a dark secret that eventually leads to the boy’s suicide.
That boy is Billie Joe McAllister. In 2018 some 50 years later after the songs release, despite a 1976 movie detailing the song’s lyric, we still don’t know exactly what happened up there on Choctaw Ridge and the Tallahatchie Bridge because Bobbie Gentry is somewhat of a recluse.
In 1972 vandals set the wooden bridge on fire and it collapsed. It was eventually rebuilt.
Bobbie Gentry was born Roberta Lee Streeter on July 27, 1944 in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. In the few interviews that she gave, Gentry touched briefly on her rural upbringing, saying, “We didn’t have electricity, and I didn’t have many playthings.”
She was married three times including her 3rd marriage to Jim Stafford who recorded “I don’t like spiders and snakes”
In the early ’70s, Bobbie was riding high—headlining in Vegas, duetting with Glen Campbell on several hits, hosting her own TV series. Then around 1975, after contributing music to a movie based on “Ode,” she simply checked out. She has not been heard from in over 35 years. All requests for interviews, recordings and performances have been denied.
A 2017 article in the Memphis City Magazine by Vance Lauderdale said she was living outside of Memphis.
I was a college basketball coach for 23 years and I never knew the Phoenix Suns, Bobbie Gentry, and Billie Joe McAllister had a connection.