Kent LaVoie was born in Tallahassee, grew up in Winter Haven and now spends half of each year in Fort Myers. He is a Floridian in the truest sense of the word.
His music, which sold in the millions and made him a superstar in the 1970s, is still listened and thrilled to today – making Kent LaVoie a true citizen of the world. In certain Asian countries, in fact, his fame is on the Madonna-and-Springsteen scale.
That brief but meteoric career, during which he was known as Lobo, began in St. Petersburg.
For it was here, as a student at St. Petersburg Junior College, that LaVoie was “discovered,” his talent nurtured, by record producer Phil Gernhard, who encouraged his protégé’s songwriting, got him into the recording studio and came out with “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” “I’d Love You to Want Me,” “How Can I Tell Her” and a handful of other classic tunes.
Lobo … er, LaVoie … granted a rare interview to The Catalyst Sessions Wednesday. He discussed his high school associations with Gram Parsons and Jim Stafford, his earliest recorded effort, a 1965 cover of Johnny Rivers’ “What Am I Doing Here” and why Gernhard encouraged him to take on a pseudonym in the first place.
“It was much more than I ever expected,” LaVoie mused at interview’s end. “And before it consumed me, I bowed out. And that was just all I could do. I wasn’t capable of doing any more than I did, the good and the bad.
“I look back and I say I wish I’d had the patience to do a little bit more. Not for the money or the notoriety, but just the idea that I could have that many more songs in the network. Which was the most important thing I did, the writing of the songs.
“Besides that, I have no regrets.”
Today on The Catalyst Sessions: Conversation and music with Tampa singer and songwriter Ed Woltil.
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