With the recent re-branding of Viva FM to Easy Mix, The Radio Network is thrilled to announce that legendary Commodores' bassist Ron LaPread has agreed to continue on in his role on flagship show All About Soul. A New Zealand resident for more than two decades years, LaPread joins Easy Mix Drive host Tim Roxborogh every Sunday night for a showcase of the finest soul and R&B from the past 40 years. The weekly broadcast combines Roxborogh's passion for the classic soul era with LaPread's unrivaled story telling abilities. Best of all, every story LaPread tells is first hand, whether it's from the time he beat Rod Stewart 3-2 in a game of soccer, to where he was when best friend Marvin Gaye died, to the big question all Commodores fans want an answer to: will he be joining his old buddy Lionel Richie onstage at Vector Arena this November?
Having just celebrated its sixth month on-air, All About Soul has already gained a steady following of fans eager to hear music not often played on New Zealand radio. "Tim's great interviewing skills plus a real affinity for the music made doing a show like this long overdue," says Easy Mix Operations Manager John Taylor. Taylor adds that "the presence of Ron LaPread, a Commodore for goodness sake, gives All About Soul enormous credibility. Ron and Tim have a friendship that translates on air and it has an enormous appeal to our audience."
Describing his co-host as "one of the most brilliant, innovative, original and influential bassists of the 70s," Roxborogh goes on to point out that "even the basslines to sensational, yet unfunky Commodores classics like Easy and Sail On are astounding and lift the songs way above other ballads of the era." From the funk of Brick House to the balladry of Three Times A Lady, the Commodores stand not only as one of the biggest selling R&B acts of all time, but one of the most diverse. Indeed, the only Motown act to shift more units in the 70s was Stevie Wonder. Summing up their broad appeal, LaPread attributes it to being "six guys who all wrote songs and we were six guys with six different kinds of music. To us, in the business, the only songwriters that we were really after were each other."
Each episode of All About Soul features one Commodores song (and LaPread's story behind it), plus favourites from artists like the Temptations, Aretha Franklin and the Commodores' biggest rivals, Earth Wind and Fire. "We banned Earth, Wind and Fire from our tour bus!" laughs LaPread, "and I'm sure the Commodores were banned from theirs!"
Roxborogh makes a point of digging out a couple of forgotten gems each week with recent tracks including James Brown and Pavarotti singing It's A Man's World, the Neville Brothers remake of Randy Newman's Louisiana and Marvin Gaye's I Want You. Mid-way through the episode listeners are also treated to a "triple-play" of songs from the same artist or theme. One triple-play was five-time Grammy winner Christopher Cross choosing his favourite soul songs, other themes have been songs from the Stax label, blue-eyed soul and songs written but not performed by Smokey Robinson.
Roxborogh believes the key to the show's popularity has as much to do with the music played as it does with LaPread's story telling: "I've known Ron since I was a teenager and there isn't an artist I can think of who he hasn't had some interesting encounter with," he explains, before recounting tales about Diana Ross pushing LaPread out of the way the day he signed his first Motown contract, marching with Martin Luther King Junior, having a pool party with Dolly Parton, touring with the Jackson 5 and beating Rod Stewart at soccer. "Apparently Rod refused to ever play Ron again!" says Roxborogh.
So what of the rumour LaPread will be plucked on stage to perform some old Commodores hits with Lionel Richie during his New Zealand tour this November? "Richie's show is very rehearsed but I'm not at rehearsal. I've heard he's been saying that I'll be up onstage with him but he hasn't spoken to me about it. If though, he asks me nicely, I think it would be good, but he can't just expect it just as he can't come to New Zealand and not call my name!" LaPread says firmly. All Commodores fans are praying Lionel calls his name. And calls it nicely too.
All About Soul - on Easy Mix Auckland 98.2 FM, Bay of Plenty 99 FM, Hawkes Bay 90.3 FM, Rotorua 95.1 FM, streaming every Sunday night from 7pm NZ time on easymix.co.nz.
About The Radio Network (TRN)
The Radio Network (http://www.radionetwork.co.nz/) operates 123 stations in New Zealand under eight brands - Newstalk ZB, ZM, Classic Hits, Radio Sport, Radio Hauraki, Easy Mix, Coast and Flava. The Radio Network is jointly owned by Clear Channel Communications and APN News and Media through Australian Radio Network.