The Main Ingredient is an American soul and R&B group best known for their 1972 hit song "Everybody Plays the Fool".

Early history

The group was formed in Harlem, New York City in 1964 as a trio called the Poets, composed of lead singer Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons, Jr., and Panama-born Tony Silvester. They made their first recordings for Leiber & Stoller's Red Bird label, but soon changed their name to the Insiders and signed with RCA Records. After a couple of singles, they changed their name once again in 1968, this time permanently to the Main Ingredient, taking the name from a Coke bottle.

The Main Ingredient then teamed up with record producer/arranger Bert DeCoteaux. Under his direction, the Main Ingredient reached the R&B Top 30 for the first time in 1970 with "You've Been My Inspiration". A cover of The Impressions' "I'm So Proud" broke the Top 20, and "Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)" went into the Top 10. They scored again with the McPherson-penned black-power anthem "Black Seeds Keep on Growing," but tragedy struck in 1971. Don McPherson, who had suddenly taken ill with leukemia, died unexpectedly. Stunned,Tony Silvester and Luther Simmons re-grouped with new lead singer Cuba Gooding, Sr., who had served as a backing vocalist on some of their previous recordings and had filled in on tour during McPherson's brief illness.

The Gooding era began auspiciously 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. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in September 1972. The accompanying album, Bitter Sweet, became their first to hit the Top 10 on the R&B album chart; its follow-up, 1973's Afrodisiac, featured several songs written or co-written by Stevie Wonder, although it did not produce any huge successes on the singles charts. They peaked at number eight on the R&B chart in 1974 with "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely", which sold over a million copies, and also reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. The track peaked at number twenty-seven in the UK Singles Chart in July 1974, although it was their only chart presence in the UK. 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, Tony 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 DeCoteaux.The two of them scored a Top 10 Pop and R&B smash with their production of Ben E.King's hit "Supernatural Thing" in 1975.

Later years

Silvester was replaced by Carl Tompkins, and Gooding departed for a solo career on Motown in 1977, which produced two albums; Simmons, meanwhile, left the music industry to work as a stockbroker. Gooding, Silvester and Simmons reunited as the Main Ingredient in 1979, and recorded 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 with new lead singer Carlton Blount; this line-up recorded Pure Magic in 2001.

Tony Silvester died after a six-year struggle with multiple myeloma on November 27, 2006, at the age of 65, and original member Luther Simmons retired shortly thereafter. The current line-up of the group consists of Cuba Gooding Sr., Jerome Jackson, and Stanley Alston.


Studio albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positionsRecord label

1970L.T.D.200RCA Records
Tasteful Soul14626
1971Black Seeds17635
1972Bitter Sweet791030
1974Euphrates River52848
1975Rolling Down a Mountainside903
Shame on the World15827
1977Music Maximus177
1980Ready for Love20769
1981I Only Have Eyes for You
1989I Just Wanna Love You59Polydor
2001Pure MagicMagnatar
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positionsRecord label

1973Greatest Hits20532RCA Records
1976Super Hits20146
1990Golden ClassicsCollectables
All Time Greatest HitsRCA Records
1996A Quiet Storm
2005Everybody Plays the Fool: The Best of the Main IngredientLegacy/RCA
2007Spinning Around: The Singles 1967–1975Kent
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


YearSinglePeak chart positions


1965"I'm Stuck on You"
1966"Chapel Bells Are Calling"
1967"I'm Better Off Without You"
"If You Had a Heart"
1969"I Was Born to Lose You"
"Brotherly Love"
1970"Can't Stand Your Love"
"You've Been My Inspiration"6425
"I'm Better Off Without You" (re-recorded version)91
"I'm So Proud"4913
1971"Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love)"527
"Black Seeds Keep on Growing"9715
"Another Day Has Come"
1972"Everybody Plays the Fool"3225446
"You've Got to Take It (If You Want It)"4618
1973"You Can Call Me Rover"10134
"Girl Blue"11951
1974"Just Don't Want to Be Lonely"10842727
"Happiness Is Just Around the Bend"35751
"California My Way"7548
1975"Rolling Down a Mountainside"927
"The Good Old Days"45
"Shame on the World"20
1976"Instant Love"96
1980"Think Positive"69
"Makes No Diff'rence to Me"
1981"Evening of Love"
"I Only Have Eyes for You"
1982"Party People"
1986"Do Me Right"75
1989"I Just Wanna Love You"15
1990"Nothing's Too Good for My Baby"29
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • Single credited to The Poets
  • Single credited to The Insiders