Like a long list of soul acts of the 70s, the Main Ingredient was a solid vocal group that had a brief period of popularity preceded and followed by many years of relative obscurity. The trio was formed in New York in the mid-60s by Tony Silvester, Luther Simmons and Donald McPherson, the former two of which have been constants in the group for forty years.
Signing with RCA Records in 1970 and working with talented producer Bert DeCoteaux, the group began a string of moderate soul hits, the best of which was the sensitive ballad "Spinning Around" (recently remade by Ray, Goodman & Brown). But when things appeared to be looking up for the trio, McPherson became ill and died suddenly, leaving a hole that was soon filled by Cuba Gooding, Sr. (father of the Oscar winning actor). With Gooding at lead, the group scored what would be its signature hit, 1972's "Everybody Plays a Fool," a terrific single that shot to the top of the Pop and Soul charts.
The Main Ingredient landed another major crossover hit in 1974 with a remake of Ronnie Dyson's "Just Don't Wanna Be Lonely" and hit the Soul top 10 with "Happiness is Just Around the Bend." But group tensions led to a split in 1977, with Silvester and Gooding recording solo albums. They reunited in 1980 for a couple albums and some moderate Soul hits, including an unusual cover of the classic "I Only Have Eyes For You," but their hitmaking days were behind them. They continued to tour and record for a few more years.
Gooding went solo again in the 90s, recording on occasion (most recently in 2004). Silvester and Simmons reunited and released Pure Magic in 2001 with Carlton Blount rounding out the trio. The album received some notice on the indie soul circuit. This version of the group continues to tour, as does Gooding, who most recently hit the road with the Stylistics and Blue Magic.
By Chris Rizik
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