One bad MFSB to be honored by Philadelphia Music Alliance
This year's inductees are MFSB; The Salsoul Orchestra; John Davis and the Monster Orchestra; WXPN folk DJ Gene Shay; Grammy-winning producer Joel Dorn; arranger, producer and conductor Vince Montana Jr.; songwriters, producers and artists Madara & White; songwriter, producer and record label entrepreneur Jerry Ross; and Wanamaker organ maestro Peter Richard Conte.
For a couple minutes I got to chat with a drummer that was a member of not one, but three, of these inductees (the first three listed) -- Charles Collins.
As part of MFSB (Officially that stood for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, but was rumored to also be a profane acronym) he played on this hit song, which became the theme song to "Soul Train."
"We were like the Funk Brothers," the 66-year-old Collins said of his fellow '70s pop orchestral brethren. "In most cases we played on all the (Philly R&B recording sessions)." Collins' playing can be heard on recordings by The O'Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass' first three solo albums, Ashford & Simpson, Herbie Mann, and Bobby Eli.
Collins' distinctively active percussion part on this hit by mellifluous Philly singer Lou Rawls came from rapping on the rim of his floor tom drum.
When orchestral arrangements in R&B reached a zenith in the '70s, Collins lived in Princeton, N.J. because it was a midway point between the two cities he was called upon to travel to for recording sessions -- Philadelphia and New York.
In the '80s, when drum sounds could be electronically programmed, "that cut into our workload quite a bit," Collins said.
Now living in north Texas, and still drumming, Collins says today's recording technology "is finally catching up with the creativity." In fact, he even has an endorsement deal with Yamaha.
"I'm very, very fortunate to be surviving in what's going on now," said Collins, adding that he's willing to "work with anybody that can send a Pro Tools session." Musicians can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the Philadelphia Music Alliance on Facebook.