Butch Kennedy of Charleston, South Carolina wrote in last August and revealed his amazing connections to Moe the Rooster, King Clyde Perkins, Lady Jam, and Midnight Blue, all of whom were previously profiled here at Carolina Soul:
“I just viewed your site I was wondering if moe the rooster is still alive. I just found out king clyde is no longer with us. My name is Butch Kennedy I was a DJ in the 70’s I was Mr. Boogie I worked with Lady Jam and was curious we used to play at Clydes Celestial !! all the time I also played with Midnight Blue from 1972 until 1976 thanks for the memories.”
Since then, Butch has gradually made his way through his photo albums, sharing with us these priceless images of himself and Lady Jam:
Midnight Blue’s rendition of the Leiber-Stoller composition “I Who Have Nothing” is right up there with Moe The Rooster as a frequent topic of email received here at Carolina Soul, and in this case, the writers always ask how they can hear the song again. As a response, we are offering an mp3 right here in this blog posting.
Midnight Blue is clearly a well-remembered Columbia, South Carolina group, and this song in particular must have been their hottest. Indeed, within a year after its local release on Samarah, it was picked up by Motown of all labels. On the strength, Samarah gained some momentum and diversified beyond just releasing records, as shown by this 1988 listing in a trade journal:
The success of “I Who Have Nothing” must have funded more off-beat releases like King Clyde’s or a seasonal offering that I have yet to come across, “What Is Christmas Without A Toy?”, by Drake and Company, featuring saxophonist Skipp Pearson.
While we are on the topic of Florence, South Carolina, and because only yesterday, after several years of searching, I finally secured a copy of “The Lowdown On Crack”, here’s a tribute to its maker, the late King Clyde Perkins. Exactly five years ago today, on February 16, 2005, Mr. Perkins’ name came up in conversation with a Florence radio disc jockey who was chatting with me about 1960s- and 1970s-era bands from the area. I had previously never known anything about a record I had by a Soul Impossibles band (but check the songwriting credits):
Musicians traveled from all over the state to record in Columbia, so the Impossibles could have been from anywhere, and I was grateful that the DJ remembered them and was still in contact. The next day I spoke with Mr. Perkins himself and learned that in 1963, when he was fresh out of Wilson High School in Florence, he formed his first group, the Royal Scots, who lasted for only a year. In 1967, he formed the Impossibles, who made the record near the end of their tenure in 1971, and who toured as far north as New York, playing gigs there for a week straight. Trumpeter Ivory Joseph has held onto these photos from a break in the action on Atlantic Beach, back in the Carolinas:
After constantly being on the road for four years, Mr. Perkins wanted to do something different, and in 1975, he started disc jockeying himself, using the handle “Cosmic Angel”. In 1977, he opened up his own club, the Celestial, and then in 1979 moved it to a bigger spot, the former Po Boy Club, which he renamed the Celestial II and kept open for six years. Billboard was hip to his sound-system activities in the Florence area, including a trademark innovation dubbed “Live Style”, and this small feature was printed in 1981:
Eighteen years in the making, 1989 saw a follow-up release to “Soul Power No. 1”. Mr. Perkins penned and rapped “The Lowdown On Crack” and released it in conjuction with the Columbia label Samarah, which was owned by members of one of that town’s most successful ‘80s R&B outfits, Midnight Blue. I’ve only ever heard about this record from the artist himself, but he didn’t have a copy on hand, and it was exciting to finally find and hear one elsewhere. We hope you enjoy what sure seems like an extension of his socially-conscious message first put forth in the ‘70s.
Meanwhile that first document “Interpretation - Soul Power No. 1” can be heard on the Jazzman/Now-Again “Carolina Funk” compilation. The cover image of the domestic version also came from Ivory Joseph’s archives. Mr. Perkins and Mr. Joseph met with us in the summer of 2006 to reminisce, lend us photos, and license the Soul Impossibles track, but sadly Mr. Perkins passed away before its reissue. We dedicate this posting to you, King Clyde Perkins, the Cosmic Angel.
As Valentines Day has up and fallen on a Sunday, we offer “Jesus Loves Me,” a declarative love song piloted by Wallace Graham. Recorded in Florence, South Carolina, the hearts make a nice touch for this loveliest of Sunday offerings. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.
Quite often folks searching the Internet hit the Carolina Soul site via some variation of the term “Moe The Rooster”, and every few months, we field an email on the topic. The emails are never about the obscure Florence, South Carolina record label that put out at least two 45-rpm records in the early 1970s (listed in our South Carolina discography). Rather, they’re always about the man behind the label, the late Mr. Lonnie Crews, aka Moe The Rooster himself, a successful businessman who operated a record shop and photography studio on Dargan Street in Florence, disc jockeyed on WYNN FM, and most famously to the denizens of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, hosted a talent show every Saturday on WBTW TV 13. While no video footage from the series seems to have survived, the August 1974 issue of national R&B rag “Soul Teen And Soul” does contain a full-color write-up on the local legend’s TV and radio activities. We are sharing it here because at the moment, we have at least two requests for pictures, and we know even more of you who come across the site may too like to reminisce:
Thanks to South Carolina-based collector Rick Sutton, we are also extremely lucky to be able to share a short montage of audio from the talent shows, circa 1974, below. Enjoy.
p.s. On a future Sunday, keeping with our new ritual of uploading Carolina gospel tracks for your auditory pleasure, we will pick and upload a side from the Southern-Airs release on Moe The Rooster Records.
The Carolina Soul website serves as a living encyclopedia of soul music made in North and South Carolina. We strive to share Carolinian songs and stories of the last half century, and we invite the input of musicians and fans. We hope you will contact us if you have information on bands or recordings from the region.