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  1. #1

    Did Don Cornelius Approach Motown For A Theme Song??

    Just wondering.

    The stage for Don's TV dance show and Motown Studios were almost neighbors in Hollywood, a long healthy walk could get you from one to the other.
    Soul train was run on a shoe string budget, apparently the dancers were lucky to get something to drink (one soft drink) , yet Don Cornelius chose to fly to Philadelphia to secure a new theme for his show (which G&H provided within the course of a week-end) rather than use his in-town options.

    So, maybe Don Cornelius did approach Motown , but for whatever the reasons , maybe Motown was not interested?, nothing came of it.

    Even years into the show , when the TSOP version had run its' course and a new theme was sought , and with Motown providing a substantial share of performers for the show , no one at Motown thought , that project really paid big for PIR, maybe we should give it a shot?

    Kind of curious.

  2. #2
    My brother did rearrangements of the Soul Train theme song on a couple of occassions and wrote the theme to Dons short lived talk show...Dons Place...

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    My brother did rearrangements of the Soul Train theme song on a couple of occassions and wrote the theme to Dons short lived talk show...Dons Place...
    how about that !




    I own that record!

  4. #4
    Never heard of Don approaching Berry about help with the Soul Train theme... I mean Motown was a different company when ST debuted.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    how about that !




    I own that record!
    Your record lasted a lot longer than Dons TV talk show...LOL

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Just wondering.

    The stage for Don's TV dance show and Motown Studios were almost neighbors in Hollywood, a long healthy walk could get you from one to the other.
    Soul train was run on a shoe string budget, apparently the dancers were lucky to get something to drink (one soft drink) , yet Don Cornelius chose to fly to Philadelphia to secure a new theme for his show (which G&H provided within the course of a week-end) rather than use his in-town options.

    So, maybe Don Cornelius did approach Motown , but for whatever the reasons , maybe Motown was not interested?, nothing came of it.

    Even years into the show , when the TSOP version had run its' course and a new theme was sought , and with Motown providing a substantial share of performers for the show , no one at Motown thought , that project really paid big for PIR, maybe we should give it a shot?

    Kind of curious.
    Don't forget the 2 piece Kentucky Fried Chicken the dancers got as well.

  7. #7
    I did not think "TSOP" was the original Soul Train Theme Song. I can hear the original in my head but can't name it.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    I did not think "TSOP" was the original Soul Train Theme Song. I can hear the original in my head but can't name it.
    The original theme was something like HOT PEANUTS or HOT POTATOES, something like that. I remember thinking my cousin was the coolest person in the world when she came over with that 45.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    The original theme was something like HOT PEANUTS or HOT POTATOES, something like that. I remember thinking my cousin was the coolest person in the world when she came over with that 45.
    You're right! We had a 45 of it as well, but it was entitled "Soul Train" by then; the name of the band escapes me as well:


  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    The original theme was something like HOT PEANUTS or HOT POTATOES, something like that. I remember thinking my cousin was the coolest person in the world when she came over with that 45.
    I think it was "Hot Potato" by King Curtis.

  11. #11
    ST theme songs (1971-2006):

    1971-73: Soul Train (Hot Potato) by King Curtis
    1973-75: TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) by MFSB & the Three Degrees
    1975-76: Soul Train '75 by The Soul Train Gang
    1976-78: Soul Train '76 (aka Get on Board) by The Soul Train Gang
    1978-80: Soul Train Theme '79 by the Hollywood Disco Jazz Band Feat. The Waters
    1980-83: Up on Soul Train by The Waters (first) and later the Whispers
    1983-87: Soul Train's A Comin' by O'Bryan
    1987-89: TSOP '87 by George Duke
    1989-93: TSOP '89 by George Duke
    1993-99: Soul Train '93 (Know You Like to Dance) by Naughty by Nature ft. Everett Harp
    2000-06: TSOP 2000 by Dr. Freeze

  12. #12
    This was the Hot Potato version they used on the show:

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    ST theme songs (1971-2006):

    1971-73: Soul Train (Hot Potato) by King Curtis
    1973-75: TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) by MFSB & the Three Degrees
    1975-76: Soul Train '75 by The Soul Train Gang
    1976-78: Soul Train '76 (aka Get on Board) by The Soul Train Gang
    1978-80: Soul Train Theme '79 by the Hollywood Disco Jazz Band Feat. The Waters
    1980-83: Up on Soul Train by The Waters (first) and later the Whispers
    1983-87: Soul Train's A Comin' by O'Bryan
    1987-89: TSOP '87 by George Duke
    1989-93: TSOP '89 by George Duke
    1993-99: Soul Train '93 (Know You Like to Dance) by Naughty by Nature ft. Everett Harp
    2000-06: TSOP 2000 by Dr. Freeze
    Wasn't there another theme song before the first on your list. It had background singers ooohing and the sound of a modern train horn toward the end.

  14. #14
    What I want to know is, did Don Cornelius really cheat on his wife with Suzanne DePasse.

  15. #15
    Researching this a bit , it looks like Don Cornelius was not shopping for a theme song . It hadn't occurred to him. Rather it was Gamble and Huff that were prodding him for the need to have one.
    So Don agreed to fly to Philadelphia and they pitched him several ideas over a long week-end until finally TSOP was born. Gamble and Huff loved their song and told Cornelius they wanted to release it as a single. It is now legendary that Don agreed, but insisted that SOUL TRAIN not be associated with it , (trying to protect copyright), something he would forever regret. For two weeks , the hit song, titled "TSOP", would top Billboard's HOT 100 chart.

    https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/508229/kenny-gamble-remembers-don-cornelius-origins-of-soul-train-theme






    Last edited by Boogiedown; 03-12-2019 at 01:04 AM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    What I want to know is, did Don Cornelius really cheat on his wife with Suzanne DePasse.
    Don had significant mood swings and it wasn't known until later that he had brain issues...I know people who suffered his wrath and temper...He was very unpredictable..

  17. #17
    Indeed he was! This has been addressed many times on “American Soul”. The show also depicts him having an affair with a fictional version of DePasse.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Researching this a bit , it looks like Don Cornelius was not shopping for a theme song . It hadn't occurred to him. Rather it was Gamble and Huff that were prodding him for the need to have one.
    So Don agreed to fly to Philadelphia and they pitched him several ideas over a long week-end until finally TSOP was born. Gamble and Huff loved their song and told Cornelius they wanted to release it as a single. It is now legendary that Don agreed, but insisted that SOUL TRAIN not be associated with it , (trying to protect copyright), something he would forever regret. For two weeks , the hit song, titled "TSOP", would top Billboard's HOT 100 chart.

    https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/508229/kenny-gamble-remembers-don-cornelius-origins-of-soul-train-theme






    It looks like Motown was never in the running for a SOUL TRAIN theme at any time during the show's run.

    I think Don Cornelius felt SO cheated (by his own doing) while witnessing the success of TSOP by MFSB , that from then on out , there was no way he was letting his potentially hit theme song out of his hands. Don next decided to create an in-house theme , even if it meant using a made-up act performing on a made-up label.

    This time out there'd be no chance of any lack of name recognition:

    SOUL TRAIN '75
    by Soul Train Gang
    on Soul Train records.



    lol!!!!

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by mr_june View Post
    Wasn't there another theme song before the first on your list. It had background singers ooohing and the sound of a modern train horn toward the end.
    You're thinking of this one and they used that whenever they went into a break:


  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    It looks like Motown was never in the running for a SOUL TRAIN theme at any time during the show's run.

    I think Don Cornelius felt SO cheated (by his own doing) while witnessing the success of TSOP by MFSB , that from then on out , there was no way he was letting his potentially hit theme song out of his hands. Don next decided to create an in-house theme , even if it meant using a made-up act performing on a made-up label.

    This time out there'd be no chance of any lack of name recognition:

    SOUL TRAIN '75
    by Soul Train Gang
    on Soul Train records.



    lol!!!!
    Don and Dick Griffey were partners in SOLAR records. Notice the arranger was the great Gene Page, who was Barry Whites lifelong friend and arranger along with a bevy of other famous artists. Gene also did a lot of work for Motown in Los Angeles. Gene and my brother alternated on a lot of projects, including these rearrangements of the Soul Train theme...

  21. #21
    "TSOP" will forever be the ultimate Soul Train theme in my eyes (ears)

    I guess the closest Motown ever got was this:

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    You're thinking of this one and they used that whenever they went into a break:

    Aww man Midnight, thanks!!! I just assumed the ST break music was created specifically for the break of the show and wished that it was a real song. Had no idea it was a Gene Chandler cut. I love it!! This is about to get a lot of play around here.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by lockhartgary View Post
    Don't forget the 2 piece Kentucky Fried Chicken the dancers got as well.
    And 1 biscuit.

  24. #24
    John, of all the Soul Train themes, The Three Degrees' "TSOP" version remains my favorite. I remember how exciting it was when the full-length vocal version with the Soul Train lyric was finally made available on a Three Degrees CD. Up until then, it had only been available as an MFSB instrumental containing the girls' background vocals.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    John, of all the Soul Train themes, The Three Degrees' "TSOP" version remains my favorite. I remember how exciting it was when the full-length vocal version with the Soul Train lyric was finally made available on a Three Degrees CD. Up until then, it had only been available as an MFSB instrumental containing the girls' background vocals.
    I'm with you , Gary . When I finally got to hear soul traaain actually being sung by The Three Degrees, it was exactly as I thought it should have been . When Tom Moulton did one of his magnificent extensions of this song , I was surprised he didn't tap into this "vocal" version for a more complete interpretation....if memory serves me right.

    And speaking of all things PI, I wonder why The Three Degrees were used here , ( and given a vocal credit) since its basically just a back -up gig. Why weren't the in-house Sweethearts Of Sigma used as usual??

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    I'm with you , Gary . When I finally got to hear soul traaain actually being sung by The Three Degrees, it was exactly as I thought it should have been . When Tom Moulton did one of his magnificent extensions of this song , I was surprised he didn't tap into this "vocal" version for a more complete interpretation....if memory serves me right.
    And speaking of all things PI, I wonder why The Three Degrees were used here , ( and given a vocal credit) since its basically just a back -up gig. Why weren't the in-house Sweethearts Of Sigma used as usual??
    John, I'm guessing that Gamble & Huff used The Three Degrees on MFSB's "TSOP" (instead of The Sweethearts Of Sigma) because they were grooming The Three Degrees for bigger and better things to come. Their plan to turn the girls into international stars worked like a charm in other countries including the UK, but, for whatever reason, not here in the U.S. (Surprise! Surprise!) They were off to a promising start when their "When Will I See You Again" 45 went to #2 on the U.S. pop chart and #1 in the U.K., but their first self-titled Philly Intl. LP which contained the hit single only made it to #28 in the U.S., and their 2nd P.I. album, "International", stalled at #99. Not exactly an American success story. But, I'm guessing that was the reason why G&H chose the Three Degrees for the Soul Train Theme over The Sweethearts.

    If you'll recall, Gamble & Huff, did, however, use The Sweethearts Of Sigma to promote Kodak's new camera at the time called "The Zip" which was included on MFSB's "Philadelphia Freedom" LP.

    https://youtu.be/ceCgGJyvtNA

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    John, I'm guessing that Gamble & Huff used The Three Degrees on MFSB's "TSOP" (instead of The Sweethearts Of Sigma) because they were grooming The Three Degrees for bigger and better things to come. Their plan to turn the girls into international stars worked like a charm in other countries including the UK, but, for whatever reason, not here in the U.S. (Surprise! Surprise!) They were off to a promising start when their "When Will I See You Again" 45 went to #2 on the U.S. pop chart and #1 in the U.K., but their first self-titled Philly Intl. LP which contained the hit single only made it to #28 in the U.S., and their 2nd P.I. album, "International", stalled at #99. Not exactly an American success story. But, I'm guessing that was the reason why G&H chose the Three Degrees for the Soul Train Theme over The Sweethearts.

    If you'll recall, Gamble & Huff, did, however, use The Sweethearts Of Sigma to promote Kodak's new camera at the time called "The Zip" which was included on MFSB's "Philadelphia Freedom" LP.

    https://youtu.be/ceCgGJyvtNA
    OK , I know of the song THE ZIP , but not of its association with a camera promotion. learn something everyday.

    So then , I'm trying to remember , WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN predated TSOP? Or TSOP was their PI introduction?? IF the later is so , or maybe even either way, YES very clever to attach their name to a record they were foreseeing as a hit. I guess The Sweethearts were understanding of what seems to me to be a conflict of interest, (these other girls moving in on their territory).

    3 Degrees did seem to fizzle quickly as a PI act, Giorgio gave them good material, they just couldn't turn it into pop success , too much disco all at once .....

  28. #28
    The Three Degrees' Philly International 45s were as follows:

    1973:
    Dirty Old Man (#58 R&B chart)
    Year Of Decision (#74 R&B)
    TSOP (w/MFSB) (#1 Pop; #1 R&B)

    1974:
    Love Is The Message (w/MFSB) (85 Pop; 42 R&B)
    When Will I See You Again (#2 Pop; #4 R&B)
    Get Your Love Back (Didn't Chart)
    I Didn't Know (18 R&B) * See below

    1975:
    Take Good Care Of Yourself (64 R&B)
    Long Lost Lover (Didn't Chart)
    Free Love (UK release)
    Toast Of Love (UK release)

    EPIC RECORDS (but still Philly Soul)
    1976:
    What I Did For Love (Didn't Chart)
    Standing Up For Love (Didn't Chart)
    We're All Alone (Didn't Chart)

    I've never understood why The Three Degrees' singles were performing so poorly on the Pop charts. Philly Soul was hitting hard and heavy with records like Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now", The O'Jays' "Back Stabbers" and "Love Train", Billy Paul's "Me And Mrs. Jones" and "Thanks For Saving My Life", MFSB w/The Three Degrees "TSOP", etc. Why were releases like The Three Degrees' "Year Of Decision", "I Didn't Know", and "Take Good Care Of Yourself" failing so miserably on the charts? To this day, it makes no sense, as those are some of my favorite Philly Soul tracks.

    * The Three Degrees "I Didn't Know" as performed A Cappella on "Sanford & Son".

    https://youtu.be/8nkalRu-r2s

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