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The Funky Chicken


Off-Topic Sunday.


If you're new to the Sideburn blog and wondering what an off-topic Sunday post is, it's something way outside the regular motorcycling sphere that delights us or one of our semi-regular correspondents and helps fill in the blanks of where Sideburn is from, at and maybe heading. It's often music related, but not always. On with this Sunday's...


This is Rufus Thomas performing his novelty hit at the Wattstax festival in Los Angeles, California in 1972. The festival was a fundraiser on the 7th anniversary of the 1965 Watts Riots and organised by the legendary soul record label, Stax.


Each performer was allowed one to four songs and while this period is not regarded as Stax' golden era, Thomas was high up the billing, just behind headliner Isaac Hayes, Luther Ingram and The Soul Children.


Arguably Rufus Thomas' biggest ever show, and he gets the crowd down. This is hours into the festival, but it seems like a new area is opened and there's a rush to the pitch of people wanting to dance. The scenes of the grooving, loads of Northern Soul-style splits drops and even glimpses of prototypical break dancing and body popping, are a delight, but the choices the singer made make me wish I was in his entourage on the day.


At the time Thomas was in his early-50s, having been born in 1917, and he chose to perform in a vivid pink tailored shorts and shirt combo coupled with white (perhaps very pale pink) calf-length go-go boots. It's set off with an almost life-size golden ram's head medallion.


The next thing that makes me wish I was on in the production meeting is the choice of his second song in his two-tune set. Funky Chicken hit the spot, the whole LA Coliseum is on its platform soles and getting down. So what's the second song? Yes, The Funky Penguin.


#music #dancing #california #offtopicsunday