The Main Ingredient and the first gig..

The Main Ingredient had several hits in the 70s - Just Don't Want To Be Lonely, Everybody Plays The Fool, Spinning Around, I'm So Proud, but they eventually disbanded.  In the late 80s they got back together with a studio produced album I Just Wanna Love You and planned a tour to support that album.  I was recommended for the band because they wanted someone who could sound like the the drumming on the album, which in fact was a drum machine as well as play their earlier hits.  I programmed sequences, and used drum triggers along with acoustic drums to play both the old and new material.

I had many memorable performances and experiences while working with the Main Ingredient for 3 years.  Most of our gigs were at 5,000-10,000 venues on concerts featuring 4 or 5 different bands on the ticket.  It was known as the "chitlin circuit" and we would share the stage with many notable bands from that era.  Some of them were the Dells, the Dramatics, the Manhattans, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Millie Jackson, the Delphonics, Bobby Blue Bland and once with the great Curtis Mayfield (at the Beacon Theater in NYC).  It was as much a life experience as it was an incredible learning experience playing these venues, meeting and watching all of the great musicians that played with these bands.  As a white drummer, there was often a bit of apprehension on my part that I would not be accepted but I was always treated with respect and acceptance which was truly humbling. 

My first gig however was more like throwing me into the racial deep end of the pool.  That gig, was the Main Ingredient opening for MC Hammer in Grambling, Louisiana.  Our plane arrived in Grambling and as usual, a van was waiting for us to take us to Grambling University where we would do a soundcheck, be fed and then perform the opening act.  Driving to the university, I began to notice that I might be the only white person in the entire city.  I think the band was enjoying my comments that "I wasn't in Kansas anymore!"  Arriving at the university, we watched the converted gym with large stage fill up with college kids that were "hot" to see MC perform.  This was before MC was a huge star but he was on the rise, and for good reason.  We came out and performed for about 30 minutes before Cuba Gooding called the last song and got us off the stage to an almost unruly crowd, clearly not interested in our "soft R&B" and hits from the 70s.  MC Hammer came on after us with 2 DJs and about 6 female dancers and brought the house down!  He was truly incredible and the audience was going nuts.  It was one of the worst mis-matched concert pairings.

John ClayComment