Born: Jul 23, 1943 in Oak Grove, LA.
Styles: Pop-Soul, Pop/Rock, Country-Pop, Country-Rock, Rock & Roll.
Instruments: Vocals, Songwriter, Harmonica, Guitar
Tony Joe White has parlayed his songwriting talent into a modestly successful country and rock career in Europe as well as America. Born July 23, 1943, in Goodwill, LA, White was born into a part-Cherokee family. He began working clubs in Texas during the mid-'60s, and moved to Nashville by 1968. White's 1969 debut album for Monument, Black and White, featured his Top Ten pop hit "Polk Salad Annie" and another charting single, "Roosevelt and Ira Lee (Night of the Moccasin)." That same year, Dusty Springfield reached the charts with his "Willie and Laura Mae Jones." Brook Benton recorded a version of White's "Rainy Night in Georgia" that hit number four early in 1970; the song has since become a near-standard with over 100 credits. Tony Joe White's own "Groupie Girl" began his European success with a short stay on the British charts in 1970.
White moved to Warner Brothers in 1971, but success eluded him on his three albums - Tony Joe White, The Train I'm On and Homemade Ice Cream. Other stars, however, continued to keep his name on the charts during the '70s: Elvis charted with "For Ol' Times Sake" and "I've Got a Thing About You Baby" (Top Five on the Country charts), and Hank Williams, Jr. took "A Rainy Night in Georgia" to number 13 Country. White himself recorded Eyes for 20th Century Fox in 1976, but then disappeared for four years. He signed to Casablanca for 1980's The Real Thang but moved to Columbia in 1983 for Dangerous, which included the modest country hits "The Lady in My Life" and "We Belong Together."
Tony Joe White was inactive through much of the '80s, but worked with Tina Turner on her 1989 Foreign Affair album, writing four songs and playing guitar and harmonica. He released Closer to the Truth a year later for his own Swamp label, and toured with Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker to very receptive French crowds. (Closer to the Truth has sold 100, 000 copies in that country alone.) His 1993 album Path of a Decent Groove was released only in France, though Warner's The Best of Tony Joe White earned an American release the same year. Lake Placid Blues (1995) and One Hot July (1998) were Europe-only efforts until 2000, when Hip-O Records brought out One Hot July in the U.S., giving White his first new major-label domestic release in 17 years.
- John Bush (All Music Guide)