Richard Dimples Fields
It's tough to find middle ground in how people feel about Richard "Dimples" Fields. Either they think he was a sly, clever, everyman's singer or he was a one-trick pony who overplayed his cliched schtick for the better part of two decades. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle.
Dimples was the owner of a San Francisco nightclub for years and was a popular regional act when he was signed by former Casablanca Records Neil Bogart for his fledgling Boardwalk Records label. Dimples was already 36 years old by the time he was signed, and he created a sound definitely aimed at a more adult crowd. Neither a great singer nor musician, Dimples appeared to breeze through his material purely on personality. His light, wispy voice was perfect for the musically lightweight songs he released about his views on life and love (mostly illicit). His first album for Boardwalk was quite popular, boasting a hit cover of the Penguins' 50s hit, "Earth Angel." The rest of the disc was generally forgettable, save a cut that still gets play today. "She's Got Papers On Me" was the lament of a married man staring at the mirror, stuck with a wife but wanting his mistress. The six minute song is nothing special until his wife (played by Betty Wright), overhearing the song, interrupts and rips through a 2 minute hilarious rant with her view of the situation. Wright propelled "She's Got Papers" into a soul radio staple, and provided the most memorable moment on any Dimples record. It also led to the response record by Barbara Mason, "She's Got the Papers (I Got the Man)"
Dimples next album, Mr. Look So Good, was named after a line in "She's Got Papers," and was really more of the same. It also contained his biggest hit, "If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another," a tune in which Dimples mused on the problems in his life, covering everything from an ugly pregnant girlfriend to the need to read the New Testament. It was an inexplicable smash on Soul radio -- his lone number one hit. The album also contained "Taking Applications," the sequel to "She's Got Papers," in which the post-break up Dimples character was still stinging from his "She's Got Papers" experience, but was accepting the applications of dozens of women ("Alright ladies, no cutting in the line") vying for the opportunity to replace his ex-wife. The song was so preposterous that it was entertaining -- though it wasn't entirely clear whether Dimples was winking as he sang it.
Dimples' Mr. Look So Good persona wore thin pretty quickly, although he continued to release albums into the mid-90s on RCA, Columbia, Capitol and his own Owch and Life Records, with very limited success. He also had some success as a producer (during the period in the 80s when it was almost required for every male soul singer to have a "girl group"), helping 9.9 on their 1985 hit, "All of Me For All Of You." His later cuts, such as "Your Wife Is Cheating On Us" and "Dear Mr. God" were rarely as clever as the titles or as his earlier material, and over time he appeared to become a parody of his cheating loverman persona. His last album was 1994's The Man Who Loves Women.
Sadly, Dimples died of a stroke in 2000 at age 58 in Los Angeles, leaving three surviving brothers and two sisters. He was buried in his home town of Oakland.
There has been some increased appreciation for his biggest hits since his death, and some of his material has been reissued. In the scheme of soul music of the '70s and '80s, Dimples was neither a pioneer nor one of the period's great talents. However, he was a real entertainer and brought many of the more amusing -- if sometimes head-shaking -- moments of the era.
by Chris Rizik