Before getting deep into our conversation with Bowlegged Lou, we momentarily perplexed the Full Force member with a greeting of “Happy 5 Year Anniversary!” Caught off guard, Lou questioned, curiously, “Five…year…anniversary? What’s that for?” SoulTrain.com was excited to enlighten him with a significant and very special tidbit of black history. It’s been 5 years since the multi-platinum-selling singer/songwriter/producer was first interviewed by our site, which was February 18, 2011. Since then, Lou has been a part of 11 additional articles. “Damn!” he exclaimed, laughing.
A product of Brooklyn, NY, Lou George, Jr., his two brothers and three cousins that comprise Full Force, have become icons in the recording industry. Lou’s contributed majorly to not just Black history and music history, but overall American history, and, of course, Soul Train history.
SoulTrain.com: You’ve been a part of some amazing articles on SoulTrain.com. But let’s start with our conversation about paying tribute to Don Cornelius. You suggested we “give him his flowers” while he could still smell them. Work began on the huge all-star tribute, and, unfortunately, he passed before it released. But that turned into the Valentines for Don Cornelius series. For the record, what’s your impression of how each article turned out?
Bowlegged Lou: Man, they were beautiful! Are you kidding? When I spoke to you I was inquiring about what you all were planning for Don’s birthday, and if there was something being done on the site for his birthday every year.
SoulTrain.com: Right. And at the time there wasn’t.
Bowlegged Lou: Yeah! Because I was like, “Yo, how are you going to have a SoulTrain.com and not celebrate this man’s birthday?” I was so passionate about it because that’s how genuine my love for him is. Since then everything has been great. You make sure he’s not forgotten.
SoulTrain.com: You were part of that very first “Happy Birthday, Don Cornelius” article. Have those lived up to your expectations?
Bowlegged Lou: Since our conversation everything has been great, from the “Happy Birthday” pieces to the “Valentines” pieces! Don’s being acknowledged. What I loved most about the first Valentines tribute is that it didn’t happen because he died. We’d spoken on that way before he passed.
SoulTrain.com: And you and Full Force were planning to present a plaque to him.
Bowlegged Lou: Yeah, it was already made. Don was slated to come to our Unsung party in Los Angeles. He’d reserved a table for eight people. But he never showed. Then a couple days later he was gone. That was crazy.
SoulTrain.com: You told me more than once how much you enjoyed your first interview with SoulTrain.com. And you seemed pretty excited to have others share your experience. How did it feel to see Vesta, Cheryl Pepsii Riley, Nieci Payne, Lou Ski Carr, and Marc Gordon, just to name a few, follow you?
Bowlegged Lou: I love Soul Train and its legacy so much, it was fantastic to see others who do too. It’s important to pay tribute to these folks.
SoulTrain.com: If Soul Train was on television today, who would be a good host? I’ve got two people in mind—Questlove and Nick Cannon.
Bowlegged Lou: It has to be someone who loves the legacy. It can’t be someone who is just coming to get a check. I like Questlove. He’s very much into the show. I don’t know if Questlove ever met Don Cornelius before, but he’s a Soul Train head, for sure! I think he’d make a great host. He’d do a dope job. Nick Cannon? I don’t know. Maybe? Questlove would be a good host for Soul Train, though. Heck, I would be a good host for Soul Train!
SoulTrain.com: Lou, what do you remember most about being a part of “King Holiday”?
Bowlegged Lou: I remember our former co-manager, Steve Salem—may he rest in peace, got us to be part of that. This was during our first Full Force album. We were just coming out. I remember Curtis Blow and all the other artists being there. Curtis co-produced that song with Phillip Jones. It was Curtis who got Melle Mel, Run-DMC, and Whodini to part of it as well. I remember meeting Dr. King’s son, Dexter. He spoke during the intro. But the big thing was meeting Coretta Scott King! That will always stay in my mind!
SoulTrain.com: During our first interview, you mentioned it was Steve Salem who encouraged you all to start writing and producing for other artists. Who is your biggest encouragement to continue doing it?
Bowlegged Lou: I guess ourselves, and my father. He has Parkinson’s but he’s always asking us how everything’s going in the studio. His voice is always behind us, but we push ourselves to keep on doing what we’re doing. It’s a great thing.
SoulTrain.com: How many hit records are you and Full Force responsible for?
Bowlegged Lou: Well… I mean…There’re a lot. We’ve done songs you might not hear but were big other places. Whodini, Selena, Samantha Fox, Rihanna, Lil Kim, Black Eyed Peas, Backstreet Boys…There’re a lot. Thirty-five, maybe? Forty? I don’t know. The list of people we’ve worked with is extensive! We did a remix for B.B. King and sang the background for him and everything. It was awesome just to be in his presence.
SoulTrain.com: It’s sad you can’t say the same for Selena.
Bowlegged Lou: I liked her so much I said we’d even do a song in Spanish! And they told us at EMI she was doing an English-speaking album, but she only ended up doing 6 songs in English. When she passed away we thought they were going to scrap the whole album. They did half English, half Spanish; Dreaming of You was a multiplatinum record! People were surprised we were part of it. We did this song for her called “Missing My Baby.”
SoulTrain.com: How did you handle completing the song without Selena being there?
Bowlegged Lou: They flew us into Corpus Christi, TX just to finish it. We were going to do it as a feature with all her voice, and we ended up doing the background vocals. But I’ll never forget they still had flowers outside the studio for her because it was still fresh when she passed away. Hearing her voice over the speakers was so surreal because she wasn’t there. We finished it, then the family came in to listen to the finished product. Right after the song finished playing her father stood up and started clapping. Then the rest of the family started clapping. I’ll never forget that as long as I live. So many great memories of so many great artists.
SoulTrain.com: Do you still speak with all the artists you’ve worked with?
Bowlegged Lou: I try to stay in contact with all the people we’ve worked with. I try and maintain the relationship through the ups and the downs.
SoulTrain.com: Lou, why do people love you so much?
Bowlegged Lou: You’re embarrassing me now! I don’t know. Not everyone in the world loves me. Some people don’t like me, I’m pretty sure. I just try to be positive with everybody and keep in touch the best way I can with folks. I don’t like to forget anybody. I like to be thoughtful as well. I like to support and encourage people that’s doing something.
SoulTrain.com: Let’s say some child’s doing their Black History Month essay, and they choose you as their subject. What points would you want covered?
Bowlegged Lou: My love of people, my love of family, my two beloved children, my brothers, my parents, my cousins; I love my family so much I’d ride and die with them. And I’m supportive of others as well. Anyone who knows me I don’t think they’d say a bad word about me. I would hope they’d cover that.
—Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.