Henry Gross - lead vocals, guitar; John Colbert - piano; Ben Harrison - piano, vocals; Mark Clarke - bass; Warren Oates - drums
This is the second of two entertaining performances by Henry Gross recorded live at New York's Bottom Line for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. This late show features several of Gross's best known songs, including "Rock 'N' Roll I Love You," "Come Along," "Juke Box Song," "Southern Band," and his Top 40 hit, "Shannon."
Gross was already on the downside of his hit-making career when this show was recorded. He switched to a CBS Records affiliation from A&M Records, but would only make a few records for the label, including one album that was never released. That relationship had only begun at the time of this show, and Gross and his band were eager to impress both the label brass and the listening radio audience.
The musicians in his band were excellent, especially bassist Mark Clarke, who would eventually join Uriah Heep, and later Mountain (after the death of Felix Pappalardi). Gross himself first emerged in the late '60s as a member of Sha Na Na, the '50s parody act that zoomed into pop culture after being featured as part of the Woodstock film and soundtrack album.
Not wanting to get stuck in a cover band, Gross departed Sha Na Na after the success it saw from the Woodstock appearance. He signed first with ABC Dunhill Records (which had found great success with Three Dog Night), but ended up leaving and singing with A&M. His reputation was impressive enough for him to commence work with producers Cashman & West, who were guiding the career of another aspiring singer-songwriter at the time, Jim Croce. It was with Cashman & West that Gross wrote and recorded Plug Me In, and its hit, "Shannon," which went gold.
From there, he was signed by CBS Records, who had given a distribution deal to Cashman & West's label. His subsequent albums failed to match the success of Plug Me In, and eventually he was dropped. He recorded for several indies after that before forming his own label, Zelda Records.
After the success from "Shannon" faded, Gross began to focus on songwriting and producing. He would go on to write and/or produce material for Mary Travers (during a sabbatical from Peter, Paul & Mary), Cyndi Lauper, Judy Collins, and Blackhawk, for whom he wrote "Big Guitar."