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Cuba Gooding Sr. poses with a portrait of some of R&B music's all-time greats. (Joey LoMonaco)
Palm Coast Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 6 years ago

For Gooding Sr., legacy's on heavy rotation

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by: Joey LoMonaco

What: The Sweet Soul of the 70s Live Concert Event, featuring The Main Ingredient, Peaches and Herb, The Emotions and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes.
Where: The Bethune-Cookman Performing Arts Center in Daytona Beach.
When: Sat., July 19. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Why: Concert proceeds benefit the “Keep a Kid from Sleeping under the Bridge Scholarship,” which supports worthy, underprivileged college students.
Tickets: $40 for general admission, $75 for VIP. Sponsorship options are also available.
 

 

Cuba Gooding Sr. grew up in Harlem, New York, eight blocks from the Apollo Theater. As a kid, he snuck in through the back door and feasted on Richard Pryor’s wit and Gladys Knight’s ballads.

“Our whole concept, when we grew up, was singing or doing something illegal were our only two options,” Gooding said. “So, we chose to become singers.”

When he arrives to perform at Bethune-Cookman Saturday, Gooding, 70, a Flagler Beach resident, has long since become that main attraction and earned the right to saunter straight in through the lobby.

Everybody plays the fool

The Temptations had my “My Girl.” The Four Tops became ascendant with “I Can’t Help Myself.” Cuba Gooding and his group, The Main Ingredient, made their mark with “Everybody Plays the Fool.” The single was certified gold in 1972 after selling more than a million copies. But life for Gooding wasn’t all Peaches and Herb (the group known for the mega-hit “Reunited”).

He fathered a son at 17, but moved to Philadelphia shortly thereafter, leaving the child, named Thomas Gooding, behind.

“That was a decision as teenagers that his mother and I couldn’t make, didn’t make and to tell you the truth — didn’t care about making,” he recalled.

Twenty-two years passed. Gooding didn’t recognize the thick-bearded bass guitar player who approached him one night at Sweetwaters Nightclub in New York City, where he was headlining.

“When he came toward me, I didn’t recognize him,” Gooding said. “When he finally grabbed me, I was struggling, and he said, ‘this is Tommy. I’m your son.’ What a moment. There are no words.”

Gooding wasn’t about to let a second chance at fatherhood get away. He kept in “close, distant contact,” with Thomas Gooding as he blossomed into a “consummate musician.” He’ll be on stage Saturday as The Main Ingredient’s musical director and band leader.

All of Gooding Sr.’s children have a flair for entertainment. Not many can sing, though. He cites the famous wedding scene from "Jerry Maguire," where his Academy Award-winning son, Cuba Jr. belts out a Marvin Gaye tune, or at least attempts to.

“They made sure I was not there when they filmed that part,” Gooding Sr. said. “Not only off the set, but I was out-of-state. We’d still probably be trying to get it right if I was there.”

‘That’s timeless’

Seventies music, Gooding says, encompassing everything from R&B to rock, endured a domestic Dark Age of sorts.

“When disco came in, it shut us down in the United States a bit,” he said. “But all over the rest of the world, music was still happening.”

The battle is still raging, Gooding claims, with karaoke bars and “open mic nights” hoisting the banners of the evil forces.

“There’s a lot of conflict right now — open mic night, karaoke, singing along with a CD, and then they charge $10 and call it a concert,” he says.

But unlike fads or musical flavors of the week, “The Sweet Soul of the 70s” (a term Gooding Sr. owns along with Time-Life), is timeless. It’s the soundtrack to a billion lives. And that’s what concertgoers will hear on Saturday.

“The men will remember when they first started experiencing girls,” he said. “The youngsters will remember that ‘this’ was on the radio all the time that they were growing up. The old jacks will remember all the experiences they had when they got their first job, when they first thought they were in love, when they first got turned down from playing on the baseball or basketball teams. These are the remembrances that this music brings about.”

Gooding credits everything: the 13 grandchildren Thomas has given him, Cuba Jr.’s success as an actor, and of course — The Main Ingredient’s legacy — to live music that places the melody and lyric above all else.

“There’s no way to tell a love story or drama without talking about the kind of music and songs that we sing,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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