*The sad part about being a star, other than occasionally dying at a disproportionately younger age than the rest of the population, is people simply forget.
Your fans move on and their children simply are not that in to you. Never mind that fact that you’re a pioneer. Forget about the fact that a third of all rap acts that have ever existed have sampled your work. The royalities from those disco hits? They’ve dried up too.
But fear not noble old schooler! Cornelius Grant feels your pain and is out to do his best to see you get props.
Who is Cornelius Grant? For shame! You call yourself a historian of soul? Well put this in your Trivia Pursuit. What man was the original guitarist, arranger and co songwriter for some of the Temptations biggest hits? Wait there’s more! In addition he was a musical conductor for Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye as a teenager. That’s right, Cornelius Grant. As of late, Grant has been trying to give props to some legendary folks that he feels have not quite gotten their shine. It is to that end that he created the “Skoole Awards.”
“We invented an award called the ‘Skoole’ that we’re going to give to Old School artists and old school pioneers in the business,” he explained. “The first recipient will be the last surviving member of the Platters, Herb Lee. We’re flying him in (to LA) and we’re also giving one to the Marvelettes. By the way, at the Grammys this year, ‘Wait Mr. Postman’ has been nominated for the Hall of Fame. I figured they deserve an award. I’m also working on Little Richard. It’s looking pretty good. I’ve been waiting to speak to him directly. I’ve already spoken to Herb and his manager, we’re flying him in and we’re also flying in Katherine and the Marvelettes. Little Richard should be in town shortly. So, we should be finalizing that.”
But the award show is not just about showing love to the music industry. There’s a sister that will be presenting one of the “Skoole Awards” who was a pioneer of television.
“Among the presenters is a woman by the name of Nicole Valgene who was the first black, head writer for “General Hospital.” She has four Emmys. She will be one of the presenters at the affair.
As mentioned previously, Grant was creatively involved with the Temptations for about 20 years. He has witnessed, and sometimes aided in, the creation of some of their greatest hits.
Cornelius tells EURweb’s Lee Bailey that he is showing love to a group called the Vibrations because of what groups such as the Temptations did to them.
“I want to pay them homage because it’s a little known fact that the ‘Temptation Walk’ was stolen from the Vibrations,” said Grant. “Another reason why I wanted to spotlight that group is because, you know the song ‘Hang On Snoopy,’ that was sung by the white group (The McCoys) and became a hit(?) … well they recorded that song first.”
Unlike the Temptations, we don’t think the Vibrations are still touring, but the “Temptation Walk” is now part of soul music history. We asked Cornelius Grant to explain how it all went down.
“There was a part of their routine where they (the Vibrations) did (what’s now called) the “Temptation Walk.” Paul Williams (deceased) was downstairs standing just off stage watching it. Paul did most of the early choreography until they got Charlie Atkins and Ron Fontaine and those guys. Anyway, he was responsible for the precision of most of the choreography of the Temptations. Well, Paul ran upstairs and said ‘I got it, I got it!’ And I was like ‘What is he talking about?’ If you remember, a lot of the doo-wop groups always had a part where there was the breakdown and the lead singer would kind of do a little rap in the middle of the song. While the lead singer was doing that the rest of the group was kind of standing around. He said ‘From now on we’re going to do this.’ Then he demonstrated the ‘Temptation Walk’.”
Before anyone gets up in arms and tries to start a Temptations boycott we recommend you exhale. Grant says no one but he and Paul knew where the walk came from. Apparently the theft was so clean the Vibrations didn’t even know they had been robbed.
“I don’t think they ever realized it,” said Grant. “It was a small part of their overall routine. I even expressed it in later years to an ex member of the Vibrations, Ricky Owens, who – later for a very short period of time – became a part of the Temptations. I think we did maybe one gig with him. It was obvious he wasn’t going to work out. I won’t elaborate, but the frame of mind he was in at that time, I doubt he even recognized (the move) from his old group.
In addition to showing love to artists of music and television, Grant says he wants to show some to legendary journalists as well. Who do we know started the first black syndicated entertainment news radio show way back in 1983? What man is currently heads the one of oldest independently owned urban news sites on the Internet?
“Get ready for the next ‘Skoole Awards,’ Lee. You have been such a guiding force for, in particular, African Americans journalists and brothers and sisters. You know you have an award coming. You were honored (last year) at the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills. I was there for that event. People like to go to sleep on Lee Bailey. I just happen to have been around long enough to know people like yourself. I’ve seen what you’ve done, I know what you’ve done and I’ve noticed that you need to be acknowledged.”
In addition to the “Skoole Awards,” Grant also runs an Internet TV show called Flashbacks and Newtraks at CorneliusGrant.com.
“We’ve not only got old school artists, but contemporary artists we have to promote as well. That’s how we came up with the idea for Flashbacks and Newtraks. I’m going to have some of the stars of tomorrow entertain, but the swan song will be a tribute group called ‘Junior Walker’s Allstars’ and we’re going to be boogeying to great hits like ‘Shotgun’ and things like that. We’ve also got Fred Williamson aka The Hammer. He’s one of our special guests. You remember Miss Goodbody from ‘Hee Haw?’ Well, she’s going to be one of the presenters too.
Miss Goodbody from “Hee Haw?” We’re not sure how good her body is these days. She gotta be like … old! 🙂 But hey, it’s all love. The event goes down on Friday, February 11 at the Marriott in Downtown Los Angeles. For more information log on to: www.corneliusgrant.com.