KING FLOYD was in my opinion one of soul’s most underrated voices. His mild tone, yet funky vocals, were sadly not more widely appreciated than his talent richly deserved. He is best remembered for his distinctive irresistible smash hit 'Groove Me', but after this chart winner he never fully realised his early promise.
King Floyd III was born 13 February 1945 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of King Floyd Sr. He was raised in the nearby suburb of Kenner. Influenced by his church surroundings, coupled with Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, he like many others lived his musical grounding on street corners, in master Floyd’s case, around the French Quarter. He was noticed by Joe 'Mr Google Eyes' August who in 1961 got him his first professional job, singing with the house band at the Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street, New Orleans. This was short lived as soon after he was drafted into the army.
Upon his discharge in 1963, slender built Floyd heads for New York with the idea of trying to break into the entertainment business. Signing to Shaw Artists R&B management he was soon singing professionally around town. He had also begun writing songs, encouraged by new found friends Don Covay and J J Jackson.
In 1964 he headed out to Los Angeles to seek his fortune, soon hooking up with other New Orleans expatriates, including band leader and producer Harold Battiste, who guided Floyd into the LA scene. He became friends with Jimmy Holiday, who had just shattered the R&B charts with 'How Can I Forget'. They wrote a song together called, 'Walkin' and Thinkin', which was picked up by Motown's subsidiary Uptown Records and became the b side to Floyd's debut release 'You Don't Have To Have It', which came to nothing.
Another stab, in 1965, with 'Walkin' and Thinkin', this time as the a side to another Floyd & Holiday composition, 'Why Did She Leave Me', on Art LaBoe's Original Sound Label, this also went unnoticed.
Floyd signed for Mercury subsidiary Pulsar Records in 1966 and released three more singles, along with his debut album in 1969, A MAN IN LOVE, all produced by Batiste, but achieved little in the way of sales. Later Motown's subsidiary V.I.P acquired the rights and re-released it in 1971 as THE HEART OF THE MATTER, an attempt to cash in on the success of 'Groove Me', but this album went straight to the deletion bins.
He was writing and contributing material for other Pulsar artists, but his own career was at a standstill. Dispirited Floyd retuned to New Orleans in 1969 and began working for the Post Office.
Floyd still hung out on the local music scene and continued writing. One particular song he had composed, 'Groove Me', which he touted around local artists, but failed to drum up any interest. Elijah Walker a Louisiana music promoter was assembling some local acts to go to Malaco Studios in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of a kind of recording day out, under the guidance of noted journeyman arranger and producer Wardell Quezergue, which saw the recorded birth of 'Groove Me'. Also from that same session came Jean Knight's number one classic 'Mr Big Stuff'.
'Groove Me' was originally issued as the b side to 'What Our Love Needs' on Malaco's subsidiary Chimneyville label. The record was flipped by DJ George Vinnett and the rest is history. Atlantic Records picked up the distribution rights and the record went onto become an R&B chart topper, and top ten pop hit, almost a year to the day after Floyd gave up and left California. This was Malaco's first big hit, selling over two million copies, which basically put the then fledgling label on the map and introduced the world to what was then the Malaco sound.
Floyd's gentle swaying Southern groove would chart a few more times on Chimneyville. 'Baby Let Me Kiss You' in 1971 and 'Woman Don't Go Astray' in 1973, but many more Southern Soul jewels fell by the wayside.
By early 1974 Floyd and Malaco had gone their separate ways, although the company would continue to release material they already had in the can well into 1978. Which was the case with Floyd's last appearance on the charts in 1976 with the delightful disco'ish 'Body English'.
Floyd approached Buddy Killen at Dial Records, which results in a true Southern Soul rooted double sided whammy, which by many is rated as his greatest moment, 'Can You Dig It' b/w 'Learning To Forget You'.
Floyd seems to have drifted in and out of the music scene for some time, living comfortably off the 'Groove Me' royalties. Fern Kinney also charted with the song in 1979, and it has been sampled.
In the late nineties he would once again start to make sporadic live performances. He recorded a comeback album for Malaco OLD SKOOL FUNK in 2000. It would be his last recording.
He passed away on the 6th March 2006 of a massive stroke and complications from ongoing diabetes.