Dyana chats with author Kimberly Roberts about her new book, Joyride……below is an excerpt from the book, be sure to listen to the interview as well.
It’s Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, and more than 2,000 teens and “tweens” have packed the majestic Uptown Theater, located on North Broad Street. They’ve come from North Philly, West Philly, Germantown, Mt. Airy, South Philly – from throughout the city, and even across the bridge from Camden, NJ. to witness yet another of the phenomenal R&B extravaganzas that powerful broadcast icon Georgie Woods produced from 1958 to 1972.
As the curtain slowly opens and an undulating rhythm begins to play, their screams of ecstasy and anticipation reach a crescendo at the sight of their favorite disc jockey, “The Guy with the Goods,” who struts out to center stage in time to the music. “Hey everybody! How y’all?” Woods bellows, prompting the frenzied fans to charge the stage and begin to dance as the Sam Reed Orchestra opens the show with a sassy and spirited rendition of Doc Bagby’s “Joy Ride,” a tune that came to be known as Woods’ theme song. It’s just another Saturday matinee at the Uptown…
“Joy Ride! The Stars and Stories of Philly’s Famous Uptown Theater” is the behind-the-scenes inside story of Georgie Woods’ spectacular “often imitated, but never really duplicated” R&B shows, as told by the artists, musicians and “insiders” that actually lived it. Often described as “Philadelphia’s version of the Apollo,” the historic Uptown Theater was a mandatory stop on the nationwide network of Black theaters known as “the chitlin’ circuit.”
This scintillating and often surprising saga features intimate and amusing anecdotes from 11 Rock and Roll Hall of Famers including Smokey Robinson, George Clinton and Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic), Eddie Levert and Walter Williams (The O’Jays), Otis Williams (The Temptations), Mavis Staples, Jerome Anthony Gourdine (Little Anthony & the Imperials), Marlon Jackson (The Jackson Five) and Leon Huff, as well as Kenny Gamble, who graciously contributed the foreword to “Joy Ride!”
There is also candid commentary from paragons of The Sound of Philadelphia including prolific drummer Earl Young (The Trammps), William “Poogie” Hart (The Delfonics), Thom Bell, Patti La Belle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx (Patti La Belle & the Bluebelles), Phil Terry and Robert “Big Sonny” Edwards (The Intruders) and Russell Thompkins (The Stylistics), who share the backstage drama and occasional drudgery of performing up to five shows a day on the chitlin’ circuit. “Joy Ride! Stars and Stories of Philly’s Famous Uptown Theater” is loaded with vintage photos, many of which were contributed by the stars themselves.
The theater is also a star of this previously untold story, and readers will learn of if its unique design and construction, and of its proud history.
For those lucky enough to have been part of the Uptown Experience, “Joy Ride!” which completely captures the soulful swagger of the 60s, will evoke fond memories of fun times that will never be repeated. For those who were not so fortunate, the intriguing and often outrageous stories of musical mayhem, creative chaos and artistic excellence, as told by some of the most celebrated and decorated artists in the annals of R&B, will make you wish you had been!