Tuesday, November 1, 2011
LANCE and THE SPIRITS - THE PERFECT COMBINATION
One of the many things that annoy me about people concerns the fame to talent equation. I can't tell you how many times I've heard folks talk about modestly talented celebrities (I'm being kind here) like Tom Cruise or Keanu Reeves or Chris Martin of Coldplay or pretty much anyone who appears on "Dancing With The Stars" like they are giants who walk the earth; "Oh, he's so talented, no wonder he makes so much money, no wonder he's so famous!" REALLY??? There are waaaay better actors than Cruise/Reeves/Travolta, etc., and Coldplay, at least to me, isn't even music, it's just something to put on the CD player to have something you can ignore while doing something else and avoiding silence. Do not get me started on "Dancing With The Stars"....
The amount of fame gained by a person has NOTHING to do with how much talent he or she has. If it did, there wouldn't be a Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton or post-"Mean Girls" Lindsay Lohan.
On the other hand, there are LOTS of multi-talented people walking this earth whose names you've probably never heard. What do you think of a guy whose band Elvis Presley used to clear his schedule to go and see? Or who appeared in several major motion pictures and at least one hit TV series? Or who is still the first to get a call when a company needs a deep, resonant voice for their TV and radio commercials? Or who owned one of the hottest nightclubs in California in the mid-60s? Well, one guy did (and does) all that. His name? Lance LeGault.
Lance (b. William Lance LeGault - pronounced "luh-GOH" - on May 2, 1935 in Chicago) had a rough childhood. His father died when he was 4 and Lance spent the next few years in orphanages because his mother could not afford to raise him. When his mother remarried and took Lance back in, things were still not well. A big kid, he lied about his age and got a job with the railroad at age 11, but was fired two years later when his real age was discovered. He went back to high school, and graduated at age 20. He then went to college in Wichita, Kansas, graduating with a degree in business management. After moving to California in 1960, LeGault bought a nightclub in the LA area called The Cross Bow, in which he and his band would play down-home blues and R&B. Clint Eastwood was a regular customer, and then one night Elvis Presley walked in (with Tuesday Weld on his arm - they were in the midst of shooting "Wild In The Country"). Elvis loved the band, and he and Lance became fast friends.
Soon afterward, Lance's buddy Elvis got him a new job. Since Lance and Elvis were built about the same (both were big six-footers), Elvis got Lance hired as his stunt double on his new film "Girls, Girls, Girls!". LeGault would end up doing 4 films with The King, making himself a career (if not a name) in Hollywood. He would later go on to appear in films like Coma, Catch My Soul (the film version of Jack Good's rock opera based on Shakespeare's Othello, in which Lance played Iago to Richie Havens' Othello) and, most famously, Stripes (in which he played Col. Glass - he was the guy who yelled "STILLMAN" at John Larroquette, causing him to throw his telescope through a window). He's probably best-known, however, for his role as Colonel Roderick Decker on The A-Team, and I'd bet my boots that if Lance and Mr. T ever got into it, he'd give Mr. T a run for his money. He's still very much in demand for voice-over work - if you've ever been to Graceland, it's Lance's voice you're hearing on the tour audio tape. Glen Larson (creator of shows like Magnum, P. I., Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, etc.) once said that Lance's voice was "four octaves lower than God's".
While he did all of the above, Lance also had a side career as a singer. His group was called Lance and The Spirits, and while they didn't set the world on fire, they did get some airplay in the LA area. The group hooked up with legendary DJ Wolfman Jack, who was then riding high on XERB radio. Wolfman got the group a deal with George Garrett (proprietor of the legendary Uncle George's Record Shop in Minneapolis, and owner of the Garrett/Bangar/Twin Town family of labels) who had recently moved his operation to California to more effectively do business with the Wolf, on whose show he was a sponsor. They released "The Perfect Combination"/"Cooking Up Some Love" by Lance and The Spirits in late 1966. Lance and the boys did promotional appearances all up and down the West Coast with Wolfman Jack, and in return he played their single on his radio show (which is how I discovered this 45 - from an old XERB aircheck a friend gave me). Unfortunately, the record didn't do well - it was the last record EVER released on Garrett (former home of The Trashmen and "Surfin' Bird"), and few people could find it in stores.
This was a shame, since this record could have at least been a regional hit. This is great uptempo blue-eyed soul, and Lance is in fine voice. On the rare occasions where I deejay at soul clubs, I always make sure this one's in my DJ box - and more often than not, people ask "what record is THAT?" When I tell them (and patiently explain who Lance LeGault is), they're always shocked.
Lance and The Spirits cut another 45, "Circle Point", released on Shock in April, 1967, and LeGault did record an LP in 1971 for Polydor ("LeGault"), but they went the way of all his other records.
Fortunately, Lance LeGault has done very well for himself over the years in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the career of Lance LeGault, blue-eyed soul brother, continues to languish in obscurity. Except here. On The Record.
Lance and The Spirits - The Perfect Combination (Garrett 1005) - 1966