Confidence is a wonderful thing to have, and so are its two first cousins, desire and determination. However, it is wise to discover early-on what you do best.
Sometimes people jump into projects, or even careers, they are not suited for and the results vary from “unsuccessful” to “disastrous.”
That has happened many times in the entertainment world.
Joseph Jackson, patriarch of the Jackson family, is one who immediately comes to mind. He got his sons’ remarkable career off to a great start, but then, no doubt inspired by Berry Gordy and Motown, started a record company, Ivory Tower, that quickly failed.
But he wasn’t finished yet. He was at one time promoting a colacalled “Jack-Cola” that was not a success, and let’s not forget his flop foray into the liquor market with a scotch whiskey.
At the peak of their explosive late 1960s success, the Temptations opened businesses in Detroit. Among them were Eddie Kendricks’ barbeque establishment (“Eddie’s Three Little Pigs”) and Paul Williams’ beauty salon (Celebrity House West).
What in the world made Master P decide to compete on “Dancing With The Stars”? If he had won, the show would have lost all credibility.
SOMETIMES celebrities believe that because of their fame and influence, they can spark a fashion trend, which is certainly not always the case. For a while Mariah Carey was promoting cutting slits in jeans, all the way around the waist. That looked silly and understandably didn’t catch on.
Deborah Cox is a good singer with several hits to her credit, including “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” and “We Can’t Be Friends,” but good intentions notwithstanding, she is not old enough or experienced enough to be effective singing the songs of the legendary and passionate Dinah Washington. Which is mainly why Cox’s tribute album, “Destination Moon,” went almost nowhere.
Deriving inspiration from Don Cornelius and “Soul Train,” James Brown started a very similar show called “Future Shock” what was short-lived.
And then there was his “Brown Stamps,” patterned after the then-popular Gold Bell Gift Stamps and S&H Green Stamps that were given at supermarkets based on how much was purchased. (You pasted them in books, then redeemed them for merchandise.)
P. DIDDY, a man of many successful ventures, recently closed his Sean Jean clothing store on Fifth Avenue in New York City “due to slow sales.”
Della Reese and another famous jazz-based songstress, Carmen McRae, once went into business together. It was a high-end ladies clothing store called Car-Della’s, the name being a combination of their first names. The store went bust.
Does anybody remember the Michael Jackson shoe line? Shoes that dull could never have become popular.
Everyone knows what an incredible basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson was. A legend. Since that time he has also proven himself to be a highly successful businessman and entrepreneur who gives back to the community. However, it was embarrassing to watch him stumble, fumble and fail as a late-night talk show host.
Another failure in that department was the multi-talented Keenen Ivory Wayans. The show came and went quickly, and seeing how hard it was to do a show night after night, five nights a week, Wayans said he had increased respect for Johnny Carson, David Letterman and others.
DEION SANDERS proved himself admirably in pro-football and pro-baseball, but he came up short as a rapper.
Cicely Tyson is one of the greatest actresses of all time. No one could ever refute that. However, in 1983 she starred on stage — and was not particularly well received — in a play called “The Corn Is Green.”
Her character, “Miss Moffat,” was an English school teacher (from Great Britain) working in Wales. This was called “colorblind casting” and audiences were supposed to overlook the fact that Tyson is a Black woman.
Wilson Pickett was one of the foremost R&B male vocalists, but not every song is appropriate for raw soul treatment. Pickett destroyed the beautiful Christmas song “Silver Bells,” complete with soul screams.
Rose Royce had a lot of hits in the late 1970s, including “I Wanna Get Next to You,” “Ooh Boy” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” The lead singer was Gwen Dickey. Quite some time after the group disbanded, an attempt was made to revive Rose Royce, but with all new people. It didn’t work.
We love the talented Freda Payne, but she was rather stiff in her 1973 big-screen debut, “Book of Numbers” starring Raymond St. Jacques.
Millie Jackson is famous for her hard-core R&B albums, such as “Feelin’ Bitchy” and “Caught Up,” but in 1981 she decided to make a clean, country-flavored album titled “Just a Lil’ Bit Country.” Sales were mild, Jackson was miffed and commented, “They want dirt, so next I’ll give them mud!”
WHEN CELEBRITIES write autobiographies, they nearly always have a professional writer working with them because hey know they are not journalists. But super-talented legend Eartha Kitt wrote “Confessions of a Sex Kitten” without help. The result was an excessively wordy book with far too much information and detail. A good collaborator/editor would have performed “streamlining” surgery.
It was a surprise when Mahalia Jackson, the legendary queen of gospel, went into the carry-out chicken business. The product was good but for whatever reason, didn’t make it. (Intense competition from Colonel Sanders had something to do with it!)
Through the years there have been numerous outstanding, or at least noteworthy, lead singers (or non-lead singers) who were just fine in the context of the group, but when they went solo, they faltered.
That would include Philippé Wynne (the Spinners), Dorothy Morrison (the Edwin Hawkins Singers; she sang lead on “Oh Happy Day”), Margie Hendrix (the Raelets), Sisqo (he was red hot, but cooled off quickly and went back to Dru Hill) and Wee Gee (the Dramatics).
Also, Bernadette Cooper (Klymaxx), Thomas McClary (the Commodores), Bonnie Pointer (the Pointer Sisters), Eugene Record (the Chi-Lites, although he later returned), Dawn Robinson (En Vogue), Andre Cymone (Prince & the Revolution) and Jean Terrell (the Supremes).