by TRN Staff Writers,
If you listened to soul music in the 70’s, then the name ‘Cuba Gooding’ didn’t stir images of “Jerry Maguire” or “The People v O.J. Simpson”; Instead the name Cuba Gooding made fans sway and swoon to the rhythms of hard core soul music.
Cuba Gooding Sr.’s raspy, soulful voice helped push his singing group “The Main Ingredient” to the top of the charts in the 70’s. The group that took the idea for its name from the label of a Coke Cola bottle was a hit with their first lyrics. Their first hit charted in 1970 with the song “You’ve Been My Inspiration”, but their “Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)” had all the right ingredients to land “The Main Ingredient” into the Top 10.
The soul group finally found its flow and a year later soared to the top of the charts again as the voice of a generation with the Black-power anthem “Black Seeds Keep on Growing”. Just as their star was rising, tragedy would cause their spirits to fall. The group’s lead singer, Donald McPherson died of leukemia. The group mourned, but didn’t lose momentum and quickly made one of the back up singers, Cuba Gooding, the new front man. It was the right singer and the right season.
With Gooding on lead vocals, the group recorded its first smash hit, “Everybody Plays the Fool”. The song not only hit number two on the R&B charts, but crossed over to top the Pop charts as well landing at number three. The group soon released its first hit album “Bitter Sweet”.
The album title “Bitter Sweet” was an appropriate reflection of Gooding Sr.’s early life. Gooding’s father moved to Harlem from Cuba after his wife was murdered because of her ties to the Marcus Garvey movement. He kept a promise made on her deathbed to name his first son Cuba. When Cuba Sr. turned 11, his father died. Leaving childhood pain behind, Cuba Sr. eventually left New York and headed to southern California where his singing career took off and so did his personal life. He married another and the couple had four children. Only one son, Tommy, followed his father’s love for music. Daughter April and sons Omar and Cuba Jr. all were drawn to acting with his namesake having the most successful career.
On April 20th, the harmony that Gooding had spent his life creating turned into heartbreak for fans. Gooding was found dead inside his parked Jaguar in an L.A. neighborhood. Cause of death has not been released at this time. Gooding died a week before his 73rd birthday.
His son Cuba Jr. shared his grief with friends and fans on IG with an album cover featuring his dad and a one word caption-“Eternal…”
In tribute to the legacy Gooding and “The Main Ingredient” have given generations of fans, here’s a look back at the group’s biggest hit, “Everybody Plays the Fool” as the performed on Soul Train in 1973. Rest in Paradise Mr. Gooding.