||February 1, 2012
“PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD”
- ... “DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO, DOO DOO ...”
- ... “Let’s get it on, it’s time to get down ... ”
- ... Time to climb aboard the Soul Train.
- ... The Three Degrees sang the above refrains on “TSOP,” the famous song (1974) also known as the “Theme From the TV Show Soul Train” by the great studio instrumental group MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother), written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Bobby Martin (all out of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love), which was commissioned by Don Cornelius, the deep-voiced host of the legendary TV show.
- ... The song was released on the Philadelphia International label, which was started by Gamble & Huff (a writing/producing team).
- ... They were hitmakers.
- ... They had a groove.
- ... The label was considered the crème de la crème of the soul/disco era and featured a sophisticated blend of great voices, orchestral instrumentation, driving rhythm and strings and horns that many considered masterpieces of the genre.
- ... Also on the roster of the famous label were The O’Jays, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, The Intruders, Billy Paul, The Trammps, Phyllis Hyman and many more.
- ... “TSOP” was a #1 hit on the pop, soul and ‘adult contemporary music’ charts and is considered the first disco record to make it to the top.
- ... It was a driving song that packed the dance floors in the clubs back in the day.
- ... Don Cornelius, the originator the Soul Train TV show, died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head on Wednesday in Los Angeles, reported the Associated Press (AP).
- ... It was a shock.
- ... He reportedly had a lot of personal (marriage) and medical problems.
- ... He hosted the syndicated program, which usually aired on Saturdays, from 1971 to 1993-a 22-year run-and continued on until 2006 with other various hosts.
- ...Gladys Knight, a personal friend, told anchor Suzanne Malveaux on CNN, that he (and Berry Gordy of Motown Records) put “our faces (and names) out there; he fought for us...and took a giant step” by entering an arena that was dominated by Dick Clark and his primarily white dance show (there were some black dancers).
- ... (The show was referred to by some as the “black American Bandstand” but Cornelius didn’t like that comparison.)
- ... Knight called him a “pioneer like you would not believe, an unsung hero.”
- ... “Soul. He had a feeling about it deep down and made it a common word.”
- ... He’s got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- ... He created the Soul Train Music Awards, which often aired on BET.
- ... It was the first national African-American dance show (there were some white dancers on the program) that everyone watched for the latest dances, fashions and culture.
- ... It was co-sponsored by Johnson Products Company’s Afro Sheen, a line of hair-care products, and Sears, Roebuck and Co.
- ... The most famous feature on the show was the Soul Train Line,” where couples (girls on one side, guys on the other, like the old Stroll dance formation from the late ‘50s) would move up in the line and dance down toward the camera,with the most amazing (stylish, acrobatic) dance moves you ever saw on television.
- ... They were masters of the dance.
- ... The show had regulars, one of which was an Asian girl (Cheryl Song) with longer than waist-length hair, who was always in the shots. (She also did music videos.)
- ... Other dancers who appeared on the show were Rosie Perez, Carmen Electra and Jody Watley, who would later become a member of Shalamar, the popular R&B group that specialized in disco and soul-oriented tunes.
- ... Another feature was the “Scramble board,” which had letters on it that had to be unscrambled to reveal the names of prominent black entertainers and sports and political figures, etc.
- ... Archive versions of the show can be seen on Bounce TV.
- ... SHOW SIGN-OFF. Cornelius would thank the TV audience, his guests and, of course, the Soul Train Gang.
- ... Then, “We hope you’ll climb aboard next week on these same stations.”
- ... “And you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone cold gas, honey ...”
- ... And then, gesturing, the Soul Train conductor would say, “Always in parting, we’re gonna wish you love (blows a kiss), peace (makes the peace sign) and soul (grabs his fist with emphasis).”
- ... And the animated Soul Train chugged down the tracks until next week.
© Rocci Fisch/Random Thoughts
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