Diary of an Ex-Soul Train Dancer: Q&A with Shabba Doo of the Lockers

Adolfo Quiones a/k/a Shabba Doo is not only one of the original members of the Soul Train Gang but was also one of the members of the legendary, world renown dance group The Lockers, all of whom got their first national television exposure on “Soul Train.” After leaving the Lockers, Shabba Doo went on to do plays, television shows with major networks, movies–most notably his acclaimed, memorable role as Ozone in the movies “Breakin” and “Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo”, choreograph music videos and even choreographed and appeared in a segment for the 2006 Academy Awards. In short, Shabba Doo has become a legend in his own right.

Soul Train: Welcome to Soultrain.com Shabba Doo and we appreciate you giving us this exclusive interview. You are originally from Chicago. What were your dreams growing up as a child?

Shabba Doo: As an inner city kid growing up on the projects, my aspirations were limited to the hope of making it to the next day. Dreams were reserved for people who were able to afford to make their dreams happen. I was supposed to be a little black kid from Chicago strung out on dope, in jail or be a career criminal. I never dreamed I would have a career in show business.

Soul Train: What inspired you to dance?

Shabba Doo: I grew up dancing around our living room apartment. We watched “American Bandstand” and the MGM Musicals that would come on Saturday mornings. We also watched a lot of UHF channel programs like the “Big Bill Hill Show” and other programs that would feature Rhythm & Blues recording artists.

Soul Train: Speaking of UHF programs, “Soul Train” began as a local program on UHF station channel 26 in Chicago and of course that was one of the shows you watched.

Shabba Doo: “Soul Train” was amazing for all of us. It was a bit more organized than some of the other UHF programs. It had something a little different like the introduction of the Soul Train line.

Soul Train: You and your sister Fawn danced on the local Chicago version of “Soul Train.” How did that come about? Did you audition?

Shabba Doo: No we didn’t audition. Kids just had to go to the Chicago Board of Trade Building (where the show was taped) at certain times and they were chosen on a first come, first served basis. There was no audition at all. The audition process didn’t come until later when the show moved to Los Angeles.

Soul Train: Did you and Fawn dance on the local “Soul Train” often?

Shabba Doo: No, we only danced on there a couple of times. I remember that the soundstage was very small, like a large living room! (Laughs)

Soul Train: When did you and your family move to Los Angeles?

Shabba Doo: Somewhere around the winter or spring of 1972.

Soul Train: What were your impressions of Los Angeles?

Shabba Doo: I remember there was a party given at the Black Student Union on the campus of California State University Fullerton and Fawn and I attended the party and we encountered the California flair. Where we came from, people dressed more seasonal and our style of clothing was more muted. But here, people were decked out in colorful clothing like guys wearing yellow shirts and orange pants. (Laughs).

Soul Train: What was the style of the dancing in Los Angeles?

Shabba Doo: The style of dancing in Los Angeles was a release from the water hoses, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam war, being able to express yourself wearing big afros and colorful clothing.

Soul Train: When did you become a part of the Lockers?

Shabba Doo: At the Black Student Union party Fawn and I met Greg Pope a/k/a Campbell Lock Jr. We were in a dance contest. Fawn and I came in second and Greg and his partner came in first. That was the beginning of the friendship between Greg and me and what eventually led to me becoming a part of the Lockers and dancing on “Soul Train.” We trained with Greg and he taught us the locking steps and we taught him the stepping dance steps, which was popular in Chicago. In a couple of weeks, I learned how to lock.

Soul Train: So you and Greg were like brothers?

Shabba Doo: Yes. He, Scooby Doo (James Foster) and I were roommates. Scooby and Greg were like 20, 21 years old. They were like big brothers to me. We would eat Rice a Roni and Tuna together. That was like Chinese Food to us! (Laughs)

Soul Train: What was it like when you went to “Soul Train” in Los Angeles, by this time airing nationally in major markets in the U.S.?

Shabba Doo: For me, going to the national version of “Soul Train” was like the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy’s house lands in Oz and when she opened the door, she stepped out of the dreary black and white into bright Technicolor. That’s what it was like for me. It didn’t even feel like a TV show. It was more like a social club. We’d be chatting it up about going to dances, clubs and parties. We’d be on the bleachers telling jokes and, on long taping days, sneak out and go to Fat Burger then come back later.

Soul Train: Did you experience jealousy while you were on the show?

Shabba Doo: It was highly competitive. The show was a breeding ground for jealousy. I remember Don Cornelius would say things like, “I’ll bet he can outdance you” or “I want Pat Davis to go down the Soul Train line with Shabba Doo.”

Soul Train: “Soul Train” was always noted for its beautiful girls. Was there any girl on the show you liked in particular?

Shabba Doo: (Laughs) Pat Davis! I used to love me some Pat Davis! But my girlfriend was Lisa Jones who, along with Pat, Fawn and Freddie Maxie (another dancer on the show) were known as the Butterfly Girls on “Soul Train” because of the Butterfly ornaments they wore in their hair.

Soul Train: You, as well as all of the Lockers and members of the Soul Train Gang, danced at all of the popular clubs in Los Angeles, right?

Shabba Doo: Yes. We danced at the Summit on the Hill, the Apartment Club, Maverick’s Flat, Blueberry Hill, the Citadel, the Total Experience, Under the Pier and the Joker Room. A lot of times, when “Soul Train” had late tapings, sometimes to 1 a.m. in the morning, we were concerned about getting to the clubs before they closed because back then clubs didn’t stay open until 4AM. They closed at 1 or 1:30 a.m.! (Laughs) We couldn’t get to the clubs often because of the late “Soul Train” tapings.

Soul Train: Where did your nickname Shabba Doo come from?

Shabba Doo: My first nickname was Sir Lance-a-Lock and that’s what I went by. But one particular night at Summit on the Hill, the R&B group Bloodstone was performing and at one point, one of its members sang a line like, “Shabba doo bop, shabba doo bop bop, shabba doo bop.” Greg said that should be my nickname so that’s how it came to be.

Soul Train: What was the first big break for the Lockers as a dance group?

Shabba Doo: We had signed with the ICM Agency and we made an appearance on “The Carol Burnett Show.” Carol was very nice and genuine to us. That was our first big break and from there we did “Merv Griffin,” “Johnny Carson” and other major programs, worked with Frank Sinatra and traveled around the world.

Soul Train: It was around this time that the Lockers had a sort of bitter departure from “Soul Train,” right?

Shabba Doo: Yes. We went to Don Cornelius and wanted him to manage us. He refused, so we left the show. But later, when we all became world famous, he invited us back to the show as guest stars twice and in 1981 he invited me to do a dance routine on the show. That was a real honor.

Soul Train: How did you got involved with the TV show “What’s Happening?”

Shabba Doo: I was told that a TV show loosely based on the movie “Cooley High” was holding auditions for the role of a character similar to the film’s character Cochise. The three main characters were supposed to be Roger, Dwayne and a cool guy who played basketball like Cochise. I auditioned for the role of the cool guy and I was very close to getting it. I had three callbacks but the producers changed the role to a fat guy who could dance which Fred “Rerun” Berry got. But all of the Lockers appeared on the fourth episode as guest stars.

Soul Train: What are your memories of Fred “Rerun” Berry?

Shabba Doo: Rerun was phenomenal. I had first met him at the club Summit on the Hill where he was dancing and I saw him and I was like, “I’m gonna jump on the fat kid” and when I jumped on him, that was a big mistake! (Laughs) But we became very good friends and we had made plans to work together again before his death.

Soul Train: When and why did the Lockers break up?

Shabba Doo: At this time Fred was doing “What’s Happening” and Toni Basil pursued a recording career. So I was saddled with the responsibility of keeping the Lockers together since I had organizational skills. Because of this, Greg said I should be recognized as the group’s leader. So one day at a rehearsal in my garage in Anaheim, Calif., Fluky Luke and Greg said they should have a vote to make me the leader of the Lockers. Don Campbell didn’t like it since he said the Lockers is his group and he told me to go form my own group. So it was a bitter breakup. Our last show together was on “The Dick Van Dyke Variety Show.” During the rehearsal for that show, we broke up like the group in the movie “The Five Heartbeats.”

Soul Train: What did you do after the breakup of the Lockers?

Shabba Doo: I went solo. It was a lot like when Michael Jackson left his brothers to be on his own. At that time, I was doing a lot of dance contests. I was doing this new form of dancing that came out called wacking and fused it with locking. It was also at this time, in 1978 and 1979 that I got a call from Kenny Ortega, who was working on a show for Bette Midler and I became a part of that show. A producer from NBC TV was in the audience and he got in touch with me and said that he was working on a new variety show called “The Big Show” for the network and needed a dancer on the show who could do the choreography. So I got Pat Davis, Ana Sanchez, Fluky Luke and other dancers to be a part of the show and work on the choreography with me.

Soul Train: Speaking of choreography, you also choreographed music videos, notably Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” and Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You.” What were those experiences like?

Shabba Doo: Those were excellent experiences. Most people don’t know that the footage of Turbo and me in Chaka’s video was culled from a video we did called “Street Beat” in which we were modeling clothes by a fashion designer named Norma Kamali and our dance scenes were simply edited into Chaka’s video. The editors did a great job of doing that.

Soul Train: How did you become involved in the movie “Breakin?”

Shabba Doo: I was originally called in to choreograph a movie called “Body Rock” but then I had a chance for a lead role for the film but I was replaced by Lorenzo Lamas. Anyway, I later met with the producer and director of “Breakin” and they suggested I audition for the role as Ozone. What got me the role was the audition scene towards the end of the movie and I said, “They’re not gonna stop us now. I’m Ozone, Street Dancer!” When I read that line, that got me the role.

Soul Train: “Breakin” was a phenomenon in the midst of the breakout of the whole hip-hop evolution.

Shabba Doo: Without a doubt. The entire hip hop dance culture as we know it hinged on the “Breakin” film. “Wild Style,” “Breakin” and “Beat Street” paved the way for the more current dance films like “Step Up” and “You Got Served.” If “Breakin” didn’t make it, we may not know the hip hop dance phenomenon as we know it now.

Soul Train: After the equally successful “Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo,” you still danced and did choreography and some years later, you were in the movie “Lambada.” How did that come about?

Shabba Doo: I got a call from the director of “Breakin” and he auditioned me for the role of Ramone which I got and I also choreographed the movie.

Soul Train: You, as well as some of the other Lockers, had a chance to work with the late Michael Jackson in his “Ghosts” video. What was that experience like working with him?

Shabba Doo: It was a very interesting encounter. He told me “You are are a really good dancer.” He was such a special individual. We got to hang out with him on the set and we dressed in costumes and heavy make up to do our dance routines.

Soul Train: What else have you been doing in recent years?

Shabba Doo: I attended the American Film Institute for screenwriting and directing.

Soul Train: That leads to my next question that you are involved with the third installment of the “Breakin” movie franchise, correct?

Shabba Doo: Yes, I wrote the script for the third “Breakin” movie. Stay tuned.

Soul Train: You have been teaching dance classes for the past several years, right?

Shabba Doo: Yes. Our six-week street dance and performance workshops begin June 25, 2011 at the Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. People who are interested in classes can go to my website www.shabba-doo.com or call 818-779-0428 for more information.

Soul Train: The death of Greg Pope on the night that the Lockers were getting an award in January 2010 was very devastating. What would like you to say about Greg in his memory?

Shabba Doo: Greg had a great impact on my life. I love him, I miss him and I grieve him.

Soul Train: Any final thoughts or advice you would like to leave with the readers of Soultrain.com

Shabba Doo: I always aspired to be something greater. People noticed that about me and would call me names. It’s the kind of hatred leveled at President Obama. There’s a saying that I say during the course of my workshops: knowledge is the new swagger, intelligence is the new cool and the new dope. God gave us all potential but education helps to unlock that potential. Without an education, without knowledge, you are like a baseball player that only has talent but doesn’t know how to use it. Talent will get you at bat but education gets you home.

– Stephen McMillian

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In addition to being a dancer/performer, Stephen McMillian is also an up and coming actor and filmmaker.

 



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