*Say it ain’t so, Larry Dodson! Say it ain’t so!
After 47 years as lead vocalist of the iconic funk, soul and R&B group, “The Bar-Kays,” is Larry Dodson really retiring?
“It’s true,” said Dodson, in an exclusive interview with EURweb.com. “Everybody has a journey. I’ve been singing a long time, but I’m in good health. And I’m not being pushed out. Everything’s fine with the group and with my partner in the music, who is bass player James Alexander.”
For parts of six decades, Dodson and Alexander have created one of the most formable one-two punch in funk music.
“James Alexander is an incredible musician,” Dodson said. “He’s my best friend. Interestingly, we’ve never, ever in all the years that we’ve been together with ‘The Bar-Kays’ fought or argued. We’ve never talked to each other in a voice louder than a normal conversational tone.”
Now, according to Dodson, he and Alexander are continuing a world-wide search for a new lead vocalist to replace Dodson when he retires at the end of this year.
Thus, Dodson and Alexander have extended the deadline for auditions to be downloaded to the group’s website.
Lead vocal hopefuls can visit www.thebarkays.com, follow the instructions, and submit their best job of singing the funk to replace the legendary Dodson.
Dodson is not entirely disappearing from “The Bar-Kays.” He and Alexander own the group’s brand, and have other connecting music business partnerships. Dodson is, however, penning his autobiography.
“I’ve finished writing my book and have turned it into the publisher,” explained Dodson. “It’s called, ‘And the Band Plays On.’ The book should be out mid-September, 2017. It’s going to be some great reading about my entire life, which largely includes being a member of “The Bar-Kays.’ ”
While the band will eventually play on without Dodson, his footprints with the group will be difficult for anyone to follow. Since becoming a member of “The Bar-Kays” in 1970, Dodson, who was 19 at the time, has recorded 30 albums with the group. Dodson and the group have performed in just about every major venue of significance in America, and they have tour extensively in international locales, especially countries in Asia and Europe. The group has entertained U.S. military troops serving abroad in Iraq and Kuwait.
Over the past 47 years, Dodson’s distinctive vocals can be heard on a barrage of hit songs by “The Bar-Kays,” to include “Shake Your Rump to the Funk,” “Move Your Boogie Body,” “Holy Ghost,” “Sex-o-matic,” “Anticipation,” “Freakshow On The Dance Floor,” “Hit and Run,” “She Talks To Me With Her Body,” “Grown Folks,” and many others.
Dodson, a native of Memphis, joined the Memphis-based “Bar-Kays” after singing with the “Temprees,” another soul group from the music-rich city of Memphis. Dodson was asked by Alexander to join “The Bar-Kays” not long after most of the group members were killed, along with the great R&B crooner, Otis Redding, in a small airplane crash in Wisconsin in December, 1967.
Alexander, who was on another plane, along with trumpet player Ben Cauley (the only surviving person aboard the doomed flight), teamed to re-tool the band. Soon, Dodson was added to the group, and became the funk ensemble’s first lead vocalist.
“I’m the guy that would breathe new life into this instrumental group,” said Dodson, now in his mid-60s. “I changed the entire dynamics of ‘The Bar-Kays.’ ”
With Dodson upfront on vocals, his rock/funk brand of singing, stage presence, and funky onstage outfits, sparked many others to catch and emulate him and the group’s “must-see” shows. Among those who often caught the group’s electrifying shows, included a young Prince and Rick James.
While Dodson’s musical style has been widely emulated, it shouldn’t be lost that he was heavily influenced by Sylvester (Stewart) Stone, front man of the iconic R&B/funk band, “Sly and the Family Stone.” Meeting Stone years later remains a career highlight for Dodson.
“I spent a month with Sly Stone in New York in the 1980s, writing songs with him for the last album that ’The Bar-Kays’ did for Mercury/PolyGram,” ‘Dodson recalled. “That was one of the most incredible experiences that I’ve ever had. He was my idol, who made the world go round for me. Being in the studio with him was unbelievable.”
Now, it’s unbelievable that Dodson’s reign with the funking “Bar-Kays” will conclude at the end of the year. Once a new lead vocalist is found, according to Dodson, the replacement will tour with “The Bar-Kays,” under Alexander and Dodson’s tutelage, for the last two months of the year.
“When a new singer is tightly in place, I will eventually move over,” said Dodson. “I’m not walking totally away; I’m moving to the side to watch someone else take the lead. James and I own the group, so I’ll be, for lack of a better term, co-managing the group. He and I also have a record label, JEA Right Now Records in Memphis. I will make sure that I’m watching out for my interests, and helping James keep the band at its absolutely funking best. My fingerprints will always be on ‘The Bar-Kays.’ ”
EUR BONUS COVERAGE …
Larry Dodson may be retiring and putting down the mic, but his contribution to the Bar-Kaya will live forever via the music they’ve recorded. With that in mind, get ready for a special Bar-Kays mix featuring all of their smash hits including “She Talks to Me With Her Body,” “Anticipation,” “Freakshow On The Dance Floor,” “Move Your Boogie Body,” “Running In and Out of My Life,” “Your Place Or Mine” and mucho, mucho more!
Check ’em all out below: