Vocalists Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Tony Silvester formed The Poets in Harlem in 1964. They recorded on the Red Bird label, but after a few singles failed to chart the group changed their name to The Insiders.
The Insiders had no luck with singles either. In 1968 one of them looked at the label of a Coca-Cola bottle and used the words “Main Ingredient” to rename the group yet again. It took until 1970, but the group finally reached the R&B top forty with a handful of their singles. While five of the singles also reached the Hot 100, none of them got any higher than #49.
Don died unexpectedly in 1972 and was replaced with a new lead singer, Cuba Gooding, Sr. And yes, he was the father of actor Cuba Gooding, Jr.
The group’s first single with Cuba singing lead was Everybody Plays The Fool, which promptly jumped to #3 and sold over a million copies. The group struggled to recapture the success of that single, and it was 1974 before they even reached the top forty again.
Ronnie Dyson grew up in Brooklyn and appeared in the Broadway production of Hair when he was only 18. In 1970, his recording of (If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? was a top ten single. He released several singles after that, none of which reached higher than #28. In 1973 he released Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely, but his version only got as high as #60 on the pop charts, although it did get up to #29 on the R&B charts.
The Main Ingredient covered Ronnie’s single a year later, and in 1974 their version of Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely reached the top ten (but barely missed reaching the top 100 records of the year). They even appeared on Soul Train with their new single. Two more singles after that reached the R&B top ten by 1975, but the group never had any success on the Hot 100 again.
The group split up, tried solo careers, reunited a few times, and even changed lead singers a time or two, but nothing they did ever seemed to work.
You can now get the audiobook for my latest book, Lost or Forgotten Oldies Volume 1.