Soul Serenade: King Floyd, “Groove Me”
Are you still hurting a little bit from your New Year’s Eve celebration? Was it a struggle to get back to work this morning? I have just the tonic for what ails you, and we’re going to travel down to the Crescent City to get it.
King Floyd III was born in New Orleans in 1945. He started singing on street corners when he was in his early teens, and got his first real gig at the Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street in 1961. Just as he was getting started however, his nascent career was put on hold while he served two years in the Army.
When he was discharged in 1963, Floyd headed north the New York City, got himself an agent, and started singing in Manhattan clubs. He also started writing songs around this time, and a year later he relocated again, this time landing in Los Angeles. It was there that he met another New Orleans transplant, Harold Battiste. The composer/arranger introduced Floyd to a DJ named Buddy Keleen, who in turn introduced Floyd to Original Sound Records.
Floyd’s debut single for the label, “Walkin’ and Talkin’,” was released in 1965. A couple of years later, Battiste arranged an album for Floyd called A Man In Love, which was released on the Pulsar label, a Mercury subsidiary. The album didn’t do any business, and Floyd was running out of money. By 1969 he was back in New Orleans, working in the post office.
Shortly after returning to New Orleans Floyd had a fortuitous meeting with producer Wardell Quezergue, who was working for Malaco Records. Malaco had a distribution deal with Atlantic Records, and a studio in Jackson, MS. It was there on May 17, 1970 that Floyd and Quezergue cut “Groove Me” in one take. It was a song that Floyd had written while working in a factory in LA. Incidentally, it was that same session that produced Jean Knight’s big hit, “Mr. Big Stuff.”
“Groove Me” was released on Malaco’s subsidiary Chimneyville Records, but it was released as the B-side to single called “What Our Love Needs.” That’s where New Orleans DJ George Vinnett comes into the picture. He flipped the record over, and once “Groove Me” got some airplay, it began to move up the charts. By Christmas day, 1970, “Groove Me” was on top of the R&B chart, and had reached #6 on the pop chart. Floyd’s post office days were over.
The follow up single, “Got To Have Your Lovin,” was chosen from Floyd’s self-titled album on Atlantic Records. The single did solid business as well, reaching the Top Ten on the R&B chart. But then creative differences with Quezergue began to come to the surface. A strong album called Think About It was released in 1973, but didn’t fare well.
At that point Atlantic pulled another single from the self-titled 1971 album. “Woman Don’t Go Astray” earned a gold record three years after it was originally released. Just when it seemed as if Floyd might be on his way back to the top, Malaco’s deal with Atlantic came to an end, and a new deal was made with the Miami-based TK Records. TK took over the production duties for Floyd, and in 1975 an album called Well Done was released. The album spawned a minor hit single called “I Feel Like Dynamite.”
A short time later Floyd left Malaco and signed with Dial Records, a subsidiary of Mercury, for the single “Can You Dig It?” Disco was on the rise by then, and Floyd’s southern soul style went out of fashion. In 1978 he moved back to LA, where he failed to reignite his career, and battled some personal demons. Eventually he returned to Louisiana, and spent more than 20 years drifting in and out of the music business.
In 2000, Floyd returned to Malaco for an album called Old Skool Funk, but it failed to gain an audience. He died of complications from diabetes and a stroke in 2006.