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The Main Ingredient

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The Main Ingredient
The Main Ingredient in 1970. Original members (L-to-R) Luther Simmons, Don McPherson, and Tony Silvester
The Main Ingredient in 1970.
Original members (L-to-R) Luther Simmons, Don McPherson, and Tony Silvester
Background information
OriginHarlem, New York, U.S.
GenresSoul, R&B, funk
Years active1964–1977, 1979–1981, 1986–1991, 1999–2020
LabelsRed Bird Records (1964)
RCA Records (1970–1981)
Polydor Records (1989)
Magnatar (2001)
Kent Soul (Compilation)
Past membersDonald McPherson
Luther Simmons
Tony "Panama" Silvester
Cuba Gooding Sr.
Carl Tompkins
Jerome Jackson
Stanley Alston
Larry Moore
Carlton Blount
George Staley Sr.
Ryan Idell

The Main Ingredient was an American soul and R&B group which had a run of hits in the 1970s, including their 1972 million-selling song "Everybody Plays the Fool".[1]

Early history[edit]

The group was formed in Harlem, New York City in 1964 as a trio called the Poets, composed of lead singer Donald McPherson (July 9, 1941 – July 3, 1971),[2] Luther Simmons Jr. (September 9, 1942 – May 9, 2016), and Panama-born Tony Silvester (October 7, 1941 – November 26, 2006).[3] They made their first recordings for Leiber & Stoller's Red Bird label, but soon changed their name to the Insiders and signed with RCA Records. In 1968, after a couple of singles, they changed their name once again, this time permanently, to The Main Ingredient.[3] The name came from a Coca-Cola bottle.

They then teamed up with record producer/arranger Bert DeCoteaux.[3] Under his direction, The Main Ingredient reached the R&B Top 30 for the first time in 1970 with "You've Been My Inspiration". A cover of The Impressions' "I'm So Proud" broke the Top 20, and "Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)" went into the Top 10.[3] In 1971, they scored again, with the McPherson-penned black-power anthem "Black Seeds Keep on Growing," but tragedy struck that year. Don McPherson, who had been suddenly taken ill with leukemia, died unexpectedly on July 3, 1971, at age 29.[3] Stunned, Tony Silvester and Luther Simmons re-grouped with new lead singer Cuba Gooding Sr.,[3] who had served as a backing vocalist on some of their previous recordings, and had filled in on tour during McPherson's brief illness.

The Gooding era began auspiciously with the million-selling smash "Everybody Plays the Fool", which hit number two R&B and number three pop to become the group's biggest hit.[3] It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in September 1972.[4] The accompanying album, Bitter Sweet, became their first to hit the Top 10 on the R&B album chart; its follow-up, 1973's Afrodisiac, featured several songs written or co-written by Stevie Wonder, although it did not produce any huge successes on the singles charts. They peaked at number eight on the R&B chart in 1974 with "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely", which sold over a million copies,[4] and also reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. The track peaked at number twenty-seven in the UK Singles Chart in July 1974, although it was their only chart presence in the UK.[5] In 1975, the group recorded several songs co-written by Leon Ware, including the R&B Top Ten "Rolling Down a Mountainside". By this point, however, Tony Silvester was harboring other ambitions; he released a solo album called Magic Touch that year, and left the group to form a production team with DeCoteaux. The two of them scored a Top 10 Pop and R&B smash with their production of Ben E. King's hit "Supernatural Thing" in 1975.

Later years[edit]

The Main Ingredient in 2008. The group at that time consisted of Cuba Gooding Sr., Jerome Jackson and Stanley Alston.

Silvester was replaced by Carl Tompkins, and Gooding departed for a solo career on Motown in 1977,[3] which produced two albums; Simmons, meanwhile, left the music industry to work as a stockbroker. Gooding, Silvester and Simmons reunited as the Main Ingredient in 1979, and recorded two more albums, 1980's Ready for Love and 1981's I Only Have Eyes for You (the latter featured a minor hit in "Evening of Love").[3] The trio reunited for a second time in 1986, but their Zakia single "Do Me Right" flopped, and Simmons returned to his day job. He was replaced by Jerome Jackson on the 1989 Polydor album I Just Wanna Love You.[3] In the wake of Aaron Neville's Top Ten revival of "Everybody Plays the Fool", Gooding resumed his solo career and issued his third album in 1993. Silvester and Simmons re-formed the Main Ingredient in 1999 with new lead singer Carlton Blount; this line-up recorded Pure Magic in 2001.

Tony Silvester died after a six-year struggle with multiple myeloma on November 26, 2006, at the age of 65,[2] and original member Luther Simmons retired shortly thereafter. Simmons died on May 9, 2016, at the age of 74.[2] Cuba Gooding Sr. was found dead in his car on April 20, 2017.[2]

The line-up of the group consisted of Jerome Jackson and Stanley Alston. On August 13, 2020, Alston died from ALS in his hometown of Palm Coast, FL at age 66.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1970 L.T.D. 200 38 RCA Records
Tasteful Soul 146 26
1971 Black Seeds 176 35
1972 Bitter Sweet 79 10 30
1973 Afrodisiac 132 16
1974 Euphrates River 52 8 48
1975 Rolling Down a Mountainside 90 3
Shame on the World 158 27
1977 Music Maximus 177 32
1980 Ready for Love 69
1981 I Only Have Eyes for You
1989 I Just Wanna Love You 59 Polydor
2001 Pure Magic Magnatar
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1973 Greatest Hits 205 32 RCA Records
1976 Super Hits 201 46
1990 Golden Classics Collectables
All Time Greatest Hits RCA Records
1996 A Quiet Storm
2005 Everybody Plays the Fool: The Best of the Main Ingredient Legacy/RCA
2007 Spinning Around: The Singles 1967–1975 Kent
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications Album


1965 "I'm Stuck on You" [A]
1966 "Chapel Bells Are Calling" [B]
1967 "I'm Better Off Without You" [B]
"If You Had a Heart" [B]
1969 "I Was Born to Lose You" L.T.D.
"Brotherly Love"
1970 "Can't Stand Your Love"
"You've Been My Inspiration" 64 25
"I'm Better Off Without You" (re-recorded version) 91 Tasteful Soul
"I'm So Proud" 49 13
1971 "Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)" 52 7
"Black Seeds Keep on Growing" 97 15 Black Seeds
"Another Day Has Come"
1972 "Everybody Plays the Fool" 3 2 25 44 6 54[A] Bitter Sweet
"You've Got to Take It (If You Want It)" 46 18
1973 "You Can Call Me Rover" 101 34 Afrodisiac
"Girl Blue" 119 51
1974 "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely" 10 8 42 7 27 Euphrates River
"Happiness Is Just Around the Bend" 35 7 51
"California My Way" 75 48
1975 "Rolling Down a Mountainside" 92 7 Rolling Down a Mountainside
"The Good Old Days" 45
"Shame on the World" 20 Shame on the World
1976 "Instant Love" 96 Music Maximus
1980 "Think Positive" 69 Ready for Love
"Makes No Diff'rence to Me"
1981 "Evening of Love" I Only Have Eyes for You
"I Only Have Eyes for You"
1982 "Party People"
1986 "Do Me Right" 75
1989 "I Just Wanna Love You" 15 I Just Wanna Love You
1990 "Nothing's Too Good for My Baby" 29
2001 "Will You Marry Me " Pure Magic
"We Got Us"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • A Single credited to The Poets
  • B Single credited to The Insiders


  1. ^ Chart position is from the official UK "Breakers List".


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "Main Ingredient Page". Soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1593. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  4. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 315, 316 & 347. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 344. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "US Charts > The Main Ingredient". Billboard. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "CAN Charts > The Main Ingredient". RPM. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Charts Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ "UK Charts > The Main Ingredient". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "American certifications – Main Ingredient". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 14, 2020.

External links[edit]