Henry Gross (born April 1, 1951) is an American singer-songwriter best known for his association with the group Sha Na Na and for his hit song, “Shannon”. He was the youngest person, at age 18, to play on the main stage at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969.
Gross was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. His mother’s love for music encouraged his pursuit of a performing career. By age 14, he was playing regularly in local clubs in the New York area, and spending his summers playing at Catskill Mountains resort hotels.
At age 18, while a student at Brooklyn College, Gross became a founding member of Sha Na Na, playing guitar and wearing the greaser clothes he wore while a student at Midwood High School.
Henry Gross broke from Sha Na Na to become a solo singer-songwriter in 1970. He signed a recording contract with ABC Dunhill Records in 1971. While there, he did some session work for producers Tommy West and Terry Cashman. He played electric lead guitar on the Jim Croce album, I Got a Name. His own debut album had little commercial success. He continued to play at clubs and colleges until, in 1973, he was signed with A&M Records.
His first self-titled A&M album sold well. It made several regional hits including “Simone”, “Come On Say It”, “Skin King”, and a cover version of Lindisfarne’s European hit, “Meet Me on the Corner”. Gross’ second A&M album was Plug Me Into Something. He began to achieve national recognition in Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Then Henry Gross moved on to Lifesong Records to make his next album. He produced a single, “Shannon”, a song written about the death of former Beach Boys member Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter, who was named Shannon. The single went gold in the U.S. and became a worldwide hit, reaching #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the Cash Box Top 100 in 1976. In Canada it reached #1 in May of the same year. “Shannon” also reached #1 in New Zealand, but peaked only at #32 in the UK. After this single’s success, Gross released the album, Release. His second single, “Springtime Mama”, reached #37 in the US.
On his next album, Show Me to the Stage, Gross mixed rock and roll songs with Phil Spector and Brian Wilson influences. While the album sold well, it provided no hit singles. He also recorded The Beatles song “Help!” for the documentary, All This and World War II; both occurred in 1976. Gross’ recording career slowed, but with CBS Records he made “Love Is the Stuff” and with Capitol Records, in 1981, along with Bobby Colomby, produced the What’s in a Name album.
In the 1980s, Gross performed in the road company production of Pump Boys and Dinettes with a cast featuring Jonathan Edwards and Nicolette Larson. Gross moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1986 and signed a publishing deal with Pic-A-Lic Music, a company owned by Roger Cook and Ralph Murphy.
Gross continued his songwriting and recording career in Nashville. In 1993, he released the album Nothing But Dreams on his own record label, Zelda Records, named after his mother. He had a Top 40 Country Radio hit, “Big Guitar” for the Arista recording group Blackhawk, fronted by his good friend, Henry Paul. Gross released I’m Hearing Things on Zelda Records in 2001. He has also written and currently performs a one-man show called “One Hit Wanderer”, chronicling the highlights and funniest moments of his life in and out of the entertainment business.
He continues to record in Fort Myers, Florida with multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer John McLane, having produced four albums with 74 tracks: One Hit Wanderer (2006), Foreverland (2007), Rhymes and Misdemeanors and Right as Rain (2011). A single was released, “What a Christmas”, the same year. As a further accomplishment, he released a trio album in 2011 with Jonathan Edwards and Henry Paul, titled Edwards, Gross & Paul.
What´s In A Name
Capitol Records 1981
Show Me The Stage