April 20, 2017 – Cuba Gooding Sr. (The Main Ingredient) was born in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City on April 27, 1944. While having moved to Cuba, his Barbados born father had promised his first wife on her deathbed that he would call his first son Cuba after the country they both adored. Gooding Sr. grew up eight blocks away from the Apollo Theater and nineteen blocks away from Carnegie Hall.
After his father, a New York cab driver who spoke 7 languages died when he was 11, the criminal grip of the city and the Harlem neighborhood took a hold of Gooding Sr. for awhile and as a result he spent a couple of years in jail, just before he joined Main Ingredient as a backing singer at first. In 1966 he married Shirley Sullivan, with whom he had 4 children, all famous in their own rights as actors and/or singers-musicians.(Cuba Gooding Jr., Omar, Thomas and sister April.)
He stepped into the lead role, after being a backing and back-up singer for the Main Ingredient in 1971 after the very sudden death from leukemia of lead singer Donald McPherson.
The Gooding era began auspiciously enough with the million-selling smash “Everybody Plays the Fool,” which hit number two R&B and number three pop to become the group’s biggest hit ever. The accompanying album, aptly titled Bitter Sweet, became their first to hit the Top Ten on the R&B charts; its follow-up, 1973’s Afrodisiac, featured 6 songs written or co-written by Stevie Wonder, although it didn’t produce any huge successes on the singles charts. Song for song, it was the most soothing album ever recorded by the Main Ingredient, but it went virtually unnoticed because it lacked a big hit. Cuba Gooding Sr. never sounded as smooth. Also the album was shunned because the sleeve cover portrayed a supposedly naked black women with an afro hairdo.
But they returned to the R&B Top Ten in 1974 with “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely,” which sold over a million copies and also reached the pop Top Ten. The follow-up disco-flavored “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend,” however did not. In 1975, the group recorded several songs co-written by Leon Ware, including the R&B Top Ten “Rolling Down a Mountainside.” By this point, however, Silvester was harboring other ambitions; he released a solo album called Magic Touch that year, and left the group to form a production team with producer DeCoteaux.
Silvester was replaced by Carl Tompkins, but the chemistry wasn’t the same, and Gooding left the group to pursue a solo career on Motown in 1977, releasing two albums. As a solo artist, Gooding notched two R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart hits of his own: 1978’s “Mind Pleaser” and in 1983’s a remake of Brian Auger original “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend,” which reached Nos. 91 and 43 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, respectively.
Gooding, Silvester, and Simmons, who had become a stockbroker during the breakup, reunited as the Main Ingredient in 1979, and cut two more albums, 1980’s Ready for Love and 1981’s I Only Have Eyes for You (the latter featured a minor hit in “Evening of Love”). The trio reunited for a second time in 1986, but their Zakia single “Do Me Right” flopped, and Simmons returned to his day job. He was replaced by Jerome Jackson on the 1989 Polydor album I Just Wanna Love You.
In the wake of Aaron Neville’s Top Ten revival of “Everybody Plays the Fool,” Gooding resumed his solo career and issued his third album in 1993. Silvester and Simmons re-formed the Main Ingredient in 1999, however with new lead singer Carlton Blount; this lineup recorded Pure Magic in 2001.
In the latter part of the 1990s, Gooding Sr. has some acting interests, after his son jr. scored an Oscar for his performance in the movie Jerry Maguire. Gooding also had a minor acting career. He appeared in three feature films, “Roscoe’s Fried Chicken and Waffles”, “Children of the Struggle,” and “Gedo” as well as making an appearance in the Showtime series “Barbershop” with his son Omar, and touring with Shirley Murdoch and David Peaston in the gospel play “Be Careful What You Pray For.” While simultaneously touring with the super successful concert series, “Soul Jam”, and recording his new CD, Cuba Gooding also worked diligently to support the internationally renowned St. Jude Children’s Hospital in his later years.
After making Rosarita Beach in Baja California his second home, he spent a lot of time there developing another dream building an entertainment complex called the Cuba Gooding Pyramid Amphitheater, which planned to host prominent artists from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. For this effort, construction was ongoing in the summer of 2010, but apparently never finished, he was named the official Ambassador of Goodwill to Rosarito Beach in Baja, California Mexico.
Three months before the official opening ceremonies Gooding Sr. told the Flint Journal that Cuba Gooding’s Pyramid Amphitheatre in Tijuana, Mexico would open the day after Thanksgiving 2010. “The first performance, right after Thanksgiving, on the 26th, is myself, The Main Ingredient and Smokey Robinson. On the 27th, we’ll have myself, The Main Ingredient, Gloria Estefan and Teena Marie,” he said. “I have Mexican business partners, American business partners. I’m bringing the two flags together, the two countries together, only through music.”
In 2012 Gooding returned to Billboard’s charts with the top 10-charting Adult Contemporary airplay chart hit “This Christmas” (Richard Kincaid featuring Cuba Gooding Sr.). It climbed to No. 9 in December of 2012.
Cuba Gooding, Sr., lead singer for the 1970s soul group The Main Ingredient and father to Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., died under somewhat unusual (desperate) circumstances. He was found around noon on April 20, 2017, almost 12 hours after his car had parked in a street in Woodland Hills, California. A presence of opened bottles of alcohol and drug containers in the car immediately launched the rumors that he had overdosed, which was debunked by the finding of the official autopsy report, which stated that Cuba Gooding Sr. — the legendary soul singer died of natural causes, listed as Hypertensive and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease, which is defined as a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, often leading to heart attack and/or stroke.