Monroe, Louisiana native Leo “Fluky Luke” Williamson was a member of the legendary Lockers dance troupe that changed the face of dance and helped give birth to the breakdance/hip-hop phenomenon. His style of locking and roboting was always a visual treat. The King of Pop even wanted to learn his moves. He was destined for stardom at a young age and when it was time for his star to shine, he was prepared. Here is his story.
Soultrain.com: Watching footage of you as part of the Lockers, it just seemed like dancing was in your soul. Was dancing always your aspiration?
Fluky Luke: As a kid, I really wanted to work as an actor in a sitcom. I later took acting classes at Cosumnes River College. When I was about 14, I wanted to dance. I had a cousin named Althea Mumford who could tap dance and she would be in these dance productions and she got me involved with it. One time, Sammy Davis, Jr. came to one of these productions and I was able to meet him and shake his hand.
Soultrain.com: That’s quite an honor. Were you involved with any other dance or musical productions as a kid?
Fluky Luke: I was part of the Young Americans (a performing group in Southern California) when I was 13. My cousin, Nora Grant, helped me become a part of it. We would mix choreography with singing.
Soultrain.com: Although you were born in Louisiana, you grew up in Los Angeles. As a teen, you attended Crenshaw High School. Right?
Fluky Luke: Right. I had a lot of friends who went there who eventually became famous, such as Rams football player Wendell Tyler, the baseball player Ellis Valentine, and Marques Johnson, who played basketball with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Soultrain.com: How did your journey with Soul Train begin?
Fluky Luke: Well it first began when I met Shabba Doo (another member of the Lockers) in Orange County, CA. He had just moved there from Chicago and I got to know him, his mother, his sister Fawn and younger sister Gina. He had two round trip tickets to go to Chicago and he invited me to come out with him to go to this dance show called Soul Train, which he danced on while he lived in Chicago. It was so cold in Chicago! (laughs). We went up all these stairs in the building the show was taped, and when we got to the tiny stage set, the red light was on which meant the show was in the process of being filmed. Shabba Doo and I were told not to come in until the red light was off and Don Cornelius was finished his hosting duties. Afterwards, Shabba Doo introduced me to Don and we went to this after party where Don got a check to take his show to Los Angeles.
Soultrain.com: Incredible! So you were there to witness when Don got the green light to take Soul Train nationally?
Fluky Luke: Yes. The party was wonderful! The music played there was great! After the party, Shabba Doo and I rode with Don and he showed us where he lived. I had a really great time out in Chicago.
Soultrain.com: Did this lead you to become a dancer on the show when it moved to Los Angeles?
Fluky Luke: No. One Saturday afternoon a year later, I went over to my girlfriend’s house and she was helping me with my homework. The TV was on and Soul Train came on. I was excited by what I saw. I was like, “What is this? Who are all these people dancing on the show?” They were splitting and kicking, they were just getting down! So in the next two or three weeks, I ran into Soul Train dancer Patricia Davis in school attended. I recognized her from Soul Train and we got to know each other and she got me on the show.
Soultrain.com: What do you recall about your first time being on Soul Train?
Fluky Luke: Man, my heart was thumping so fast from all the many beautiful African American women there (laughs). Don Cornelius even remembered me from when I went to visit his local show in Chicago. There were people from Crenshaw High, School, Dorsey High and Beverly Hills High. Everyone was having a slamming good time!
Soultrain.com: You had also won a dance contest on the show, right?
Fluky Luke: Yes. The first time, my partner and I came in third place; but the second time we did the contest, we came in first.
Soultrain.com: What are your favorite memories of the guest stars that came to Soul Train?
Fluky Luke: James Brown! The Lockers even got a chance to do some concerts with him. I also have fond memories of when the Temptations came to show, as well as Smokey Robinson, who took me up to his house and we talked about music.
Soultrain.com: You also had a great encounter with Michael Jackson while on Soul Train.
Fluky Luke: Yes. When The Jackson 5 came to the show, Michael came over to me during a break and asked my name; he realized that I locked differently from everyone else and wanted me to teach him some moves. So on another day, a limo picked me up and took me to his home in Encino. We practiced at the studio in his home. I wanted to lock off of “ABC” but Michael put on the wrong record, “The Love You Save.” But when he put on “ABC” he watched as I showed him the moves and he picked up on them and had them down pat. I remember him introducing me to his brother Randy and his mother. Jermaine happened to walk in the studio and he was a little annoyed at Michael because he was supposed to be using the studio at the time (laughs).
Soultrain.com: What an honor to have taught the future King of Pop locking. Do you have any other memories with the Jackson family?
Fluky Luke: The Jacksons had a party for Michael once at a club in Los Angeles called The Citadel. The Lockers, many of the Soul Train dancers and others, were there. We had a great time. I remember Jermaine gave me a ride because I had no ride back home.
Soultrain.com: How did you become a part of the Lockers?
Fluky Luke: Toni Basil came to a basketball game at my high school. Me and other dancers were doing a victory dance after winning the basketball championship to the Edwin Starr song “War” and we tore it up! Toni came over to me afterwards and admired the way I danced and asked what was the name of the dance I was doing. I called it The Crazy Leg. She then introduced me to her boyfriend Don Campbell, and wanted me to be a part of their dance group called the Lockers. So she called my dad and asked his permission for me to join. They later met and he gave the okay for me to join. Then I met the other members of the group Greg “Campbell Lock,” Jr.,”Slim the Robot,” and Fred “Penguin” Berry. Shabba Doo didn’t join until a little while later.
Soultrain.com: How did you get the nickname “Fluky Luke?”
Fluky Luke: My friend had the name Fluky Luke, Jr. My nickname was Leo-Lock. So when I became a part of the Lockers, Toni Basil said I needed to have a better character name. She threw out a couple of names and said, “What about Fluky Luke?” It was just a coincidence that my best friend’s nickname was Fluky Luke, Jr. He had a relative who was a professional cartoonist whose nickname was Fluky Luke. So we had to ask permission to use that name as my stage name for the Lockers. So I got the okay to use it and that’s how the nickname stuck, which I had copyrighted.
Soultrain.com: Who taught you how to lock?
Fluky Luke: Fred Berry showed me the first parts of locking and Greg showed me other locking steps. Greg introduced me to Jimmy “Scoo B Doo” Foster and we were all roommates for a while. Scoo B and I had jobs at 2010 Coffee Shop on Wilshire Boulevard.
Soultrain.com: Do you remember the first or one of the first professional gigs that the Lockers did?
Fluky Luke: Yes, for a Roberta Flack special. It was our first time we were filmed professionally as The Lockers. We had an agent at the time. The special was live so there were no rehearsals on set. It was pretty much all improv. I remember the producers and cameramen being angry because they couldn’t keep up with the dances we were doing.
Soultrain.com: What was the experience like working with Roberta Flack?
Fluky Luke: Roberta was a very nice person, very soft spoken. She even calmed things down when some of the Lockers and the other dancers on the special had an argument. She also invited us to her house.
Soultrain.com: Another big break came when you guys did the Carol Burnett show.
Fluky Luke: Absolutely. Carol Burnett’s producers were really easy to work with. They let us do the dance moves we wanted to do on camera and the cameramen kept up with us.
Soultrain.com: For a little while, even though the Lockers were professional and had an agent, you guys still danced on Soul Train. When did you guys decide to stop dancing on the show?
Fluky Luke: We stopped dancing on Soul Train because we were in the unions (SAG and AFTRA). We were paid performers and since we were not paid as Soul Train dancers, we eventually left.
Soultraincom: The Lockers did go back to perform on Soul Train as professional performers and you were paid. What was that like for you guys to go back on the show that gave you guys your very first TV exposure?
Fluky Luke: It was great! I never expected Don to invite us to perform on his show. It was an honor.
Soultrain.com: The Lockers have had so many great opportunities to work with a lot of great people on stage and TV. Tell me about some of the Lockers’ other career highlights.
Fluky Luke: We toured with Frank Sinatra, who was such a cool person. We did a Doris Day TV special. She was so astounded by all of the moves we did and she was a joy to work with. We performed on the Grammy Awards behind Aretha Franklin, which was cool and pretty unique. We also did the Tonight Show, Wolfman Jack, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore. Don Campbell would get mad if our nicknames were mispronounced. We were also on Dick Van Dyke’s variety show. He was a very cool and smooth comedian and he told us he wanted to dance like us. So we did a skit in which he wore a Lockers outfit and hat and we taught him locking moves.
Soultrain.com: The Lockers even had the pleasure of meeting other legends and future legends during TV show tapings and tours. Who were some of those people and what are your memories of those meetings?
Fluky Luke: We met Lucille Ball, who was real nice to us. We also met John Travolta, Robin Williams, Bing Crosby, Milton Berle, and I even met Sammy Davis, Jr. again during a rehearsal for a network special he and the Lockers were on. He drove me up to his home and I met his wife Altovise. I told him how much I loved his rendition of the song “The Wicked Old Witch is Dead.”
Soultrain.com: Some of the Lockers were in the classic movie Wattstax. How did that opportunity come about?
Fluky Luke: A producer of the film saw Greg Pope a/k/a “Campbell Lock, Jr.” at a club and wanted him to do a routine in his film, which was a concert held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Greg got me and some of the other Lockers to do some routines and some of it made it in the final cut of the film.
Soultrain.com: Performing on Saturday Night Live holds special memories for you, right?
Fluky Luke: Yes. It was my first time in New York CIty. We were doing a tour at the time of the East Coast. We made stops at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall. Producers from SNL saw our show and contacted Toni Basil and we performed on the show. John Belushi was a nut! Gilda Radner was crazy, and they were all professional comedians. We also went to this popular club in NYC–a line of people was around the corner to get into the club. Inside the club the DJ recognized us and yelled, “Soul Train’s in the house!” He then played the New York Hustle. We didn’t know how to do the New York Hustle but we picked up the steps and did it. We even signed autographs for people.
Soultrain.com: What was it like to perform on American Bandstand?
Fluky Luke: It was fun. We also wanted to dance during other segments of the show, but Dick Clark told us that we were only paid to do our performance, but we wouldn’t get paid to dance during the dance segments of the show since we were in the union. We understood and he let us dance during other parts of the show and we cut the floor up!
Soultrain.com: What was the experience of doing the 70s hit TV show What’s Happening?
Fluky Luke: All of us were excited. We met all the lead actors on the show. Ernest Thomas (who played Roger) taught us about the importance of being on time and when you take a break, come back to the set when break time is up. We really appreciated that.
Soultrain.com: The Lockers also had a record called “Stuffin’ the Bird.” How did that come about?
Fluky Luke: Toni Basil’s friend Lew Bedell wanted us to record this song. So we were given this song and taught vocal exercises and we recorded the song. We wanted to get the song on the radio and perform it but nothing came of it.
Soultrain.com: You were also married to Fawn Quinones (Shabba Doo’s sister and a Soul Train dancer) for a time, correct?
Fluky Luke: Yes. We married in 1974 and we had a son, but due to irreconcilable differences, we divorced in 1977. Our divorce was finalized in 1979. I remarried in 2008 to Elizabeth Gomez.
Soultrain.com: Why did the Lockers break up?
Fluky Luke: Basically, after our contract fizzled, no agent would take us on. We were viewed as a novelty act and at that time in 1977, agencies didn’t have the need for novelty acts–although we were a professional dance group, not a novelty act.
Soultrain.com: Shabba Doo was able to get you on the variety show NBC’s Big Show, right?
Fluky Luke: Yes. It was taped at Gower Studio and he got me, Ana Sanchez who was in the Breakin’ movie, Patricia Davis from Soul Train, and others to perform in many dance numbers on the show. The show didn’t last long, however.
Soultrain.com: Being that you were no longer dancing or in the entertainment industry, what were things like for you afterwards?
Fluky Luke: It was a difficult time for me. I wanted an office job and I was looking for jobs everywhere but no one would hire me. I eventually got some jobs here and there, such as a job in a federal program and a job in the automobile club. I filed for unemployment in 1983 or 1984 but I later got security guard work, which lasted until 1988. Then I did temporary job assignments until I landed a job at Walmart’s in Burlington, NJ for ten years.
Soultrain.com: You along with Shabba Doo, Greg “Campbell Lock, Jr.” and other notable dancers were a part of Michael Jackson’s “Ghosts” video in 1996. What was that experience like working with and being reacquainted with Michael?
Fluky Luke: It was fun! I happened to meet up with Shabba Doo and he helped me become a part of the project. We wore a lot of heavy make-up and outfits to resemble ghosts and zombies while doing our locking steps! (Laughs) Michael never forgot us.
Soultrain.com: You now have a new style of dance and rap.
Fluky Luke: Yes. It’s called “leocougarcop,” a combination of dance and rap that I have been working on.
Soultrain.com: Any other personal achievements you want to share?
Fluky Luke: I graduated from the Ultimate Medical Academy in March of this year with a degree as a medical assistant.
Soultrain.com: Congratulations to you, bro! In one word, what was your overall experience with the Lockers?
Fluky Luke: Fantastico!
Soultrain.com: How do you feel that the locking dance has gone from just being a dance craze to becoming a movement?
Fluky Luke: To see people like Scoo B Doo and Mr. Wiggles teaching locking and for people overseas to be teaching and learning the dance is incredible. Locking is still hot and I give all the teachers and students applause for keeping locking alive.
Fluky Luke: Yes. I teach all kinds of dance classes at the Biz Dance Studio in Apple Valley, CA. I teach hip hop, tap, ballet, jazz and “lockercising” classes.
Soultrain.com: Sometimes the early Soul Train dancers don’t get the credit they deserve for helping to start what would later be the hip-hop/dance revolution. What would you like to say regarding this?
Fluky Luke: The next time Soul Train has an awards special or anniversary special, invite the early dancers and give us recognition.
Soultrain.com: Do you have a word of wisdom you want to share with readers?
Fluky Luke: For anyone who wants to dance or go in the entertainment industry, educate yourselves and learn about the business and become more business oriented.
For more information about Leo Williamson’s dance classes, contact Shana at Biz Dance Studios at 760-240-3100. The address is 13548 Nonwaket Road, Apple Valley, CA 92308. Visit Leo “Fluky Luke” Williamson online at http://Youtube.com/flukyluke22, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen McMillian is a journalist, writer, actor, filmmaker, dancer, soul music historian and Soul Train historian.