Cuba Gooding Sr found dead in LA

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Main Ingredient hits included Everybody Plays The Fool and Just Don't Want To Be Lonely

Cuba Gooding Sr, the lead singer of 70s soul group Main Ingredient and father of actor Cuba Gooding Jr, has died at the age of 72.

The star was found dead in his car on Thursday in Woodland Hills, California, officials said.

His body was slumped over the wheel of his Jaguar, but there was no suspicion of foul play.

Anonymous sources told the LA Times that drug paraphernalia and alcohol containers were found in the car.

Harlem inspirations

Born in Harlem, New York, the star received his unusual forename from his father, Dudley MacDonald Gooding.

"He told my mother that he would name his first born son Cuba because he once lived in Cuba and had positive feelings about the country," the musician told the North Dallas Gazette in 2015.

He was encouraged to pursue a singing career by his family.

"My mom and dad were determined that their first-born son would do something in the arts, if I had the talent," he recalled in a 2014 radio interview.

"Being born in Harlem had its advantages if you wanted to be an entertainer because it was literally... the entertainment capital of the world.

"I lived literally only eight blocks away from the Apollo Theater, and 19 blocks from Carnegie Hall. Although Carnegie Hall required a little bit more sneaking in the back."

Growing up, he saw the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson play on his doorstep, and resolved to become a singer in his own right.

The other members of Main Ingredient - Tony Sylvester, Luther Simmons Jr and Donald McPherson - were childhood friends, but Gooding Sr initially declined to join the group, having set his sights on a solo career.

But, as the band started to achieve success, he helped out with backing vocals, and stepped up as the lead singer following the death of frontman Donald McPherson in 1971.

Under Gooding's leadership, the band scored their first million-seller, Everybody Plays The Fool, which led to further hits, including Happiness Is Just Around the Bend and Just Don't Want to Be Lonely.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The musician joined his son, Cuba Gooding Jr, at the 2007 premiere of American Gangster

In 1972, they recorded an album, Afrodisiac, which featured several songs written or co-written by Stevie Wonder.

But by 1977, Sylvester and Gooding Sr had both left the band. Gooding Sr signed with Motown Records and released two well-received, but commercially disappointing albums.

He later re-joined Main Ingredient and worked with them through the 1980s.

His son Cuba Gooding Jr is an Oscar-winning actor who appeared in films including Boyz 'N the Hood, A Few Good Men and Jerry Maguire.

The star had three other children with his wife Shirley Gooding: Omar and April, both of whom are also actors, and musician Tommy Gooding, who served as the musical director of his father's touring band.

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