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Interview with...
Eddie Floyd
@ Ironworld, Chisholm, Minnesota, June 12, 1998

Eddie Floyd
Ironworld, 6/12/98
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
What follows is a conversation I had with Eddie Floyd while at the Blues On The Range festival.

Ray: How did you get started with the Memphis/Stax group?

Eddie: I came from a group called the Falcons out of Detroit in the early 60's with Wilson Pickett and Joe Stubbs. I met Al Bell who became president of Stax Records and that's how I was introduced to the Memphis sound. I went down in 1966 with Al Bell and wrote a few songs for Carla Thomas "Stop, Look What You're Doing To Me" was one. All I wanted to do was write songs, but all the things I wrote down there, they put them out by different artists. I cut the demo of "Knock On Wood" for Otis Redding. Took it in, played it for them, and they said eeehh, not his style. So everybody said that sounds like a hit record on Eddie. So they put it out in two or three places and it took like about eight months, I almost forgot about the song. Then people started picking it up and that was the beginning (his first major hit). Of course we did "Raise Your Hand," which was the second one. By that time Otis became a big hit in England and they decided to take the whole troop over and that's when it really started for me.

[Floyd knew Cropper and Dunn when they were with Booker T. & the MG's back when they were the house band in those early Stax days. Cropper actually co-wrote hundreds of songs with people like Eddie Floyd, Otis Redding and others.]

Ray: How did you hook up with the Blues Brothers band?

Eddie: Through Steve, we were doing some shows in Canada one time and he was saying they were going to put the group together again. I had seen the movie and the whole bit and knew most of the guys. Sam Moore of Sam and Dave did the first one and I've done all the rest of them, for nine years now. I go out with my band six months of the year and the rest of them with the Blues Brothers. I was lucky enough to get into the new movie Blues Brothers 2000 so here we are and now we're getting ready to go back to Europe and do it all over again.

[I asked about one of the songs he sang in the movie Blues Brothers 2000.]

Eddie: Steve and I wrote the song "634-5789" for Wilson Pickett (back in the 60's). Pickett is also in the movie so I got a chance to sing it with him although he and I used to sing together in the Falcons. I never thought I'd get a chance to sing it with him but we did.

Ray: Where were you born?

Eddie: I'm originally from Montgomery, Alabama (same as Pickett) but was raised in Detroit. I was just about 6 weeks old when we moved to Detroit. (Laughs) (Born June 25, 1945 in Montgomery, AL).

Ray: What was your inspiration to start singing in the first place?

Eddie: I used to always like to sing anyway. The groups, though, were my inspiration way back then. I liked Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers. (Laughs) Yeah, when I saw this guy in that group I knew I wanted to be in a group, I knew I wanted to sing.

Big John Dickerson & Eddie Floyd
Ironworld, 6/12/98
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
Ray: How old were you then?

Eddie: Oh God, I was about 14. (Laughs again) I sort of went through the Motown thing too, my uncle Robert West, who started the Falcons, was also with Barry Gordy just at the beginning until they decided to go separate ways.

Ray: What year was that when you were 14?

Eddie: That was 1959.

Ray: Right before the Motown time. Did you know Johnnie Bassett?

Eddie: Oh yeah, I know Johnnie. We were part of that whole thing. Diana Ross was sort of like with my group first before Motown, when she was with the Primetts. My uncle, Robert West, used to manage the Falcons and her group. Some kind of way she got with Barry and became the Supremes and we were the Falcons and it went on and on.

[The "Classic" Falcons period from the late 1950's to the early 1960's featured Eddie Floyd, Joe Stubbs, Mack Rice (Mustang Sally fame), Willie Schofield and Lance Finnie. They were definitely a "super" group at the time setting a standard in lead singing followed by other Detroit voices like Hank Ballard and Jackie Wilson. They were also a little bit ahead of their time in their distinctive and powerful fusion of R&B harmony with gospel and blues.]

Ray: Did you pattern your voice after anyone?

Eddie: No, everybody in the Falcons sang lead, I used to sing ballads at that time. People know me for up-tempo songs because of my hits. I realized that everybody started switching, you know like Wilson Pickett was doing the up-tempo stuff. Rough, touch stuff. I said, 'hey I like that too,' so I started switching over and singing. With the Falcons I sang with Wilson Picket, Joe Stubbs, brother Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops. Sort of like a family affair in Detroit, all the guys came to somebody else from another group.

Ray: Did you know Sam Cooke at the time?

Eddie: Oh, yeah, Sam Cook, Jackie Wilson. We (The Falcons) were on a tour with them. That was amazing because you see one of them and you say, 'the other one can't possible follow.'" Laughs. "But they could. Everybody had their fans and they were fans of all of them.

Ray: Was King Curtis playing with them?

Eddie: Oh yeah, oh man this guy was a great saxophone player, a great musician and person.

Ray: You've done some Sam Cooke songs...

Eddie: Yeah I recorded one of his songs in the early years. Isaac Hays had the idea to record "Bring It On Home To Me" for Sam and Dave. I happened to come through the studio that morning and heard him working it up and I said 'do it on me, do it on me.' And they wasn't there. (Laughs) So I got a chance to do it. And it was up-tempo because Sam Cooke had it slow, a totally different version and I said the same thing too, we couldn't do the slow version because he's done that. So I'm glad I done the up-tempo version.

Ray: What songs did Cropper write with you?

Eddie: Steve and I wrote, "Knock On Wood" and "634-5789" together (old songs that were in the new movie), and others, so it's doing a full circle.

Ray: Did Steve work out the music and you did the lyrics?

Eddie: We would just stay in the hotel and he'd bring his guitar and we would sit down and we'd get the idea together and he'd do the music. We'd both do the melody and the lyrics.

Ray: Are you touring with your own band in addition to the Blues Brothers?

Eddie: Yeah I have one out of London we work Europe the most, called Soul Incorporated that I work with. Basically everybody has a band. You know Matt Guitar Murphy has his band. Booker T & the MG's of course, when Booker wants to go out, Steve and Duck they go and play with the band. We all get a chance to do other things. The Blues Brothers horns, I just saw them on the Tony Awards the other night, now they're here tonight.

Ray: It's nice to see you up here on stage.

Eddie: Hey it's good to be in America, we stay in Europe so much. (More laughs)

Ray: It would be nice to get you down in the Twin Cities with your band.

Eddie: Hey, I would love it. It's been a long time. Maybe the movie would kind of help coming in there. I'd love to come there.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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