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Local man reached upper echelons of country music in Tennessee, found love of his life before settling in Howard County



A local Nashville man has a past that is not so local – he conquered the Country/Western music business in Nashville, Tennessee and met the love of his life in the process.
Bobby Chambers was raised in Nashville, Arkansas until the age of 10 when he and his family relocated to the big City of Chicago in 1954.
In October of 1967 Sherry Jay, country music’s first professional female drummer, and her mother, Penny Jay – singer, songwriter, guitarist, and tenor singer – passed through Chicago. Needing a temporary replacement for a sick guitarist, Bobby came to the rescue. Five days later, Penny contacted Bobby and offered him a permanent position in the band, with Penny being the overseer.
Ten days after meeting Sherry and living a lifetime running from the idea of marriage, Bobby and Sherry decided to tie the knot. “People said it would never last. They claimed we didn’t know each other well enough,” said Bobby.
Bobby and Sherry held their wedding ceremony at the Surf Ballroom – a nightclub in Clear Lake, Iowa – where they were scheduled to play that night. The owners of the club were the best man and woman in the ceremony. The nightclub was the last place where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson last performed eight years before.
Despite public opinion, the marriage lasted 44 years until Sherry passed away in March of 2011.
Within those 44 years, Bobby and Sherry experienced music business life as well as family life.
“Penny Jay and the Blue Jays” toured the United States as well as played shows as far as Canada, Iceland, and Greenland. Bobby said the band mostly played songs written by Penny, but would take a shot at almost anything that was requested of them – they were never able to stick to a set playlist.
Sherry took on the responsibility of sewing costumes for all of the band members. Her grandmother had taught her to sew at a very young age and she enjoyed it.
Penny Jay is best known for her creation of the number one hit country music song “Don’t Let Me Cross Over.” The song was covered by over 30 artists, including George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Dolly Parton. Throughout her career, Penny became close friends with Dolly.
Bobby said his favorite location in which the band played was Deadwood, South Dakota. The band played in Deadwood for 3-4 years for the annual “Western Days” festivities. The building they played in was the old saloon in which Wild Bill Hickok was shot. The saloon had been remolded, but its historical value was kept intact.
After a number of busy years in the mainstream music business, Bobby and Sherry decided to remove themselves from the music scene and settle down in Nashville, TN to start a family. Their first child, Bobby II was born in 1970 and their second child, Sunny, was born two years later in 1972.
It did not take them long to make the decision to relocate back to Bobby’s hometown, Nashville, AR to raise their family. After her husband’s death years later, Penny also decided to make the move from big Nashville to little Nashville.
Upon being back in Arkansas, Bobby opened “Chambers Printing” and operated it for years. Bobby is currently employed by the Nashville News for commercial printing. “I had printing in my blood ever since high school,” Bobby said.
Bobby has been around the world and presently enjoys being settled in one spot close to his hometown. Although he made many memories and met the love of his life in the big city, Bobby will always love his small-town home of Nashville, Arkansas.

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