Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders - C.C. Rider

Fillmore West (San Francisco, CA), 04/01/1971

Music Audio Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders
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Listening to this concert from 1971, it's hard to think of it as something Bill Graham would've booked for the always cutting-edge Fillmore West Auditorium. Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders was a Vegas show band, known for the type of performance you'd catch in a casino lounge at Caesar's Palace or the Flamingo.

Cochran was determined to be the white James Brown. He never pulled it off, being that his entire act was clearly a cop of what Brown, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and other landmark black artists were already doing. Still, that never stopped him from trying, and at times he came close to achieving his own, unique onstage greatness.

Cochran, topped with a massive, mile-high white pompadour and dolled-up in gaudy, Sam Nudie-styled jump suits (it's rumored that Elvis took to wearing these suits after seeing Cochran), was always a consummate showman. Even so, his act often suffered from the critical opinion that Cochran, at times, was simply offering a white boy rendition of what R&B's best stars were already doing much better. That is not to say his massive, horn-driven band isn't exceptional, however - because it is. One listen to this show should be enough to convince.

Opening with two high energy covers (Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" and Sly Stone's soul-rock classic "I Want to Take You Higher"), sung by his female backup singers, this show follows a format made popular by the likes of James Brown or Ike and Tina Turner, whereby the backing band warms up the crowd for the headliner.

Cochran enters onstage for the third song and his only charting hit single, "C.C. Rider" (while he didn't write the original version, he did chart with his own). Having worked the show/theater circuit for over a decade by the time this recording was made in 1971, it's clear that Cochran had blown out his once powerful baritone voice. His vocal prowess had been replaced by over-the-top stage theatrics, making the audience privy, at the very least, to an entertaining stage show.

Most of the material consists of standard R&B covers such as Sam and Dave's "When Something is With My Baby" and "Soul Man," and Otis Redding's "Can't Turn You Loose" and "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay." In 1981, Cochran dropped out of music and became a born again Christian. Soon after, he started his own fire and brimstone gospel ministry, which is still going strong today.