Ronnie Dyson - vocals; Background vocals - unknown
This set, recorded in January of 1978, was one of two shows by R&B singer Ronnie Dyson recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Performing at New York's Bottom Line, by the time of these shows Dyson had gone from being a Broadway superstar and a viable contemporary R&B artist to becoming a glorified cabaret act. Instead of the classic R&B songs he recorded with Thom Bell and the gang at Gamble & Huff in Philly, he offers up cheesy versions of "Sara Smile," a jingle he did for Pepsi, and a medley of hits by the Carpenters.
What this show does provide, however, is a good idea of what a talented R&B singer Dyson was in his prime. It's a shame he wasn't making the kind of records Al Green was when this show was recorded.
Ronnie Dyson was only 20 years old when he landed one of the lead roles in the Broadway Production of the musical Hair. Born in Washington in 1950, but raised in Brooklyn, he spent his youth singing in Gospel choirs. He would spend the next few years in various (and less successful) musicals, but one of those gave him a song entitled, "If You Let Me Make Love To You, Why Can't I Touch You?" He used it to secure a record contract with Columbia Records, who released it in 1970. It would become a Top 10 hit. The success of that single, and its subsequent LP, gave Dyson the ability to record and tour through most of the '70s. He teamed up with celebrated Philly-based producer Thom Bell, and his 1973 release, One Man Band, is generally regarded as his best LP.
Dyson toured between 1974 and 1976 with the Supremes (post Diana Ross) and the Trammps, yet he was unable to crack the Top 20 despite working with some of the best R&B writers and producers of that time. He settled into a semi-regular performance schedule from his base in Philadelphia throughout the 1980s, but was never able to achieve much more status than that of a regional cabaret act. An unknown heart condition caught up with him in 1990, when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 40.