Memphis has always been a city chock full of great, spirited artists, and in the 1970s, the local heroes to beat were Larry Raspberry & the Highsteppers. After leaving his post as leader/lead singer/guitarist of his original band the Gentrys (of "Keep on Dancing" fame), Raspberry went solo for a while, later forming the Highsteppers with his wife Carol Ferrante, herself a local celebrity as a former Miss Tennessee entry in the Miss America pageant. Once a top-notch rhythm section, two-piece horn section, and Greg "Fingers" Taylor on harmonica were in place, the Highsteppers were born. Raspberry (one of rock & roll's true and few hands-on stars) worked the group incessantly, booking them into every venue large and small that would have them. Although various bandmembers grumbled about some of the dives they would occasionally work, the grueling (and often low-paying) road schedule produced the desired results, and by the time offers from bigger venues came their way, they were ready. On-stage, Larry Raspberry was a true dynamo, going back and forth between funky lead guitar and Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano pounding, all the while working the crowd like an evangelist full of spiritualistic fervor, his on-stage patter heavily influenced by his childhood hero, Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips. Fueled with great songs and an act spit-and-polished to compete with anything that came up against them, the Highsteppers quickly became Memphis' most popular band of the '70s. The band was signed to Enterprise, a division of Stax Records, and started work on their debut album, Highsteppin' and Fancy Dancin,' with Raspberry working the dials with Memphis producing legend Don Nix. The album perfectly captured the band's controlled but raw, rockin' spirit, but it died in the marketplace as the group had the star-crossed luck to be one of the first white acts signed to Stax just as the label was about to go bankrupt. Raspberry bought back his masters at a court bankruptcy hearing and managed to get a second album (In the Pink) out on his own label before the original group went their separate ways. Raspberry went on to do various acting assignments (he played Dewey Phillips in the TV movie This Is Elvis and appeared in the cult classic I Was a Zombie for the F.B.I.), re-forming the Highsteppers with varied personnel for isolated dates through the '80s and up to the present time. Still quite active in music as a songwriter (Carly Simon's "Tired of Being Blonde," the Everly Brothers' "Always Drive a Cadillac," Jimmy Buffett's "Dixie Diner," and Carl Perkins' "Let's Get Upset" all emanate from his pen) and bandleader, Larry Raspberry remains an American music treasure. ~ Cub Koda, Rovi