We are sad to report to SoulTrackers that the great Cuba Gooding, Sr., known to a generation as the lead singer of The Main Ingredient, and to the following generation as the father of an Oscar-winning actor, has died at age 72.
The dashing and talented Gooding first came to the attention of music fans in 1971, when he took over as lead singer in The Main Ingredient, replacing Donald McPherson, who died suddenly of leukemia. While coming at a tragic time for the group, Gooding’s addition foreshadowed success, as The Main Ingredient was about to take off as an A-List R&B group. Working with talented producer Bert DeCoteaux for a couple years, the group had had a a string of moderate soul hits, the best of which was the sensitive ballad "Spinning Around." But with Gooding as the new lead singer, 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. Gooding landed a minor hit with “Mind Pleaser,” before reuniting with the group in 1980 for a couple albums and some moderate Soul hits, including an unusual cover of the classic "I Only Have Eyes For You." The Main Ingredient came together in several forms and continued to record separately for years to come, but their hitmaking days as an act were over by the mid 80s.
Gooding went solo again, recording on occasion and often landing at the lower end of the R&B charts. But the emergence of his son, Cuba Gooding Jr, as a top actor following his Oscar-winning performance in Jerry MaGuire, gave a boost to the senior Gooding’s touring career, and he certainly delivered, providing his new audience with always tasty old school soul and a voice that sounded terrific. He continued to perform in multi-artist soul acts well into this decade.
Both as part of one of the great R&B groups of the 70s and as a solo artist, Cuba Gooding, Sr. was one of the best. His music will continue to be cherished, even as fans mourn his too early death.