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The Main Ingredient

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Biography

The Main Ingredient is 1) an American soul and R&B group best know for their 1972 hit song, “Everybody Plays the Fool” and 2) a sample-based hip hop producer born in South Jersey.

Early History

The group was formed in Harlem, NY in 1964 as a trio called the Poets, composed of lead singer Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Panama-born Tony Silvester. They made their first recordings for Leiber & Stoller’s Red Bird label, but soon changed their name to the Insiders and signed with RCA. After a couple of singles, they changed their name once again in 1966, this time permanently to the Main Ingredient.

Nothing much happened until the Main Ingredient hooked up with producer Bert DeCoteaux, who had an excellent sense of the lush, orchestrated direction soul music would take in the early ’70s. Under his direction, the Main Ingredient reached the R&B Top 30 for the first time in 1970 with “You’ve Been My Inspiration.” Things grew steadily from there; a cover of the Impressions’ “I’m So Proud” broke the Top 20, and “Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)” went Top Ten. They scored again with the McPherson-penned black power anthem “Black Seeds Keep on Growing,” but tragedy struck in 1971: McPherson, who had suddenly taken ill with leukemia, passed away unexpectedly. Stunned, Silvester and Simmons regrouped with new lead singer Cuba Gooding, Sr., who’d served as a backing vocalist on some of their previous recordings and had filled in on tour during McPherson’s brief illness.

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