Slightly-more-than-middle-aged women swooned to Marshall Thompson and the Chi-Lites’ “Oh Girl” and “Have You Seen Her,” no doubt knocked out by the trio’s sartorial splendor of pumpkin-colored suits and white fedoras with pumpkin-colored brims.
The Sun Times Reported that nearly 15,000 fans were at Millennium Park for the extravaganza, and man, what a cool vibe. All those people, and the only time it got unruly was when Don Cornelius refused to deal his signature “I wish you love, peace and soooooooooul!” (The crowd begged and prodded, and of course he finally gave in.)
Plenty of youngsters (iow, under age 50) were there to dance to the music, too. My niece Janet and three of her kids picked me up for the first part of the celebration. “I’ve gotta show these kids how it’s done!” she told me. For 90 minutes before the concert, legendary Chicago DJ Herb Kent spun classic dusties like “Fire” and “Funky Town” by The Bean in Millennium Park and organized the longest Soul Train dance line in history. From the Sun Times review:
Cliff Boone was at the front of the line.
You couldn’t miss him. He wore a silk, lime green suit with white cuffs dotted with $100 bill icons. He danced in skyscraper heels and wore a wide-brimmed hat over a puffy afro wig. About the headgear, “all I will say about that is that it is ‘Bootsy’ or ‘Sly,’ ” said Boone, slightly out of breath after the dance. That would be Bootsy Collins and Sly Stone.
Janet and the kids had to leave before the concert – it was a school night, after all – so Mike joined
me to hear the Chi-Lites, the Impressions and the Emotions, each group backed up by a 30-piece orchestra with a horn section that was out of this world. It was chilly outside, but my heart felt warm, and the tingle I felt on my skin was not goosebumps. What a privilege to be a slightly-older-than-middle-aged woman living in the city where this music, these musicians, and this larger-than-life TV show got their start. As the late great Curtis Mayfield used to sing in that beautiful Impressions ballad of his: I’m so proud.