By Michael Aushenker
Rose Royce, the Watts and Inglewood soul-funk collective, will close out this summer’s Marina del Rey’s Pop Saturday concerts at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way.
The group exploded on Billboard’s pop charts after the soundtrack for the 1976 film “Car Wash” produced the hits “I’m Going Down,” “I Wanna Get Next to You,” and the movie’s title track.
The original incarnation of the band, Total Concept Unlimited, toured abroad with Edwin Starr, an R&B singer who introduced the band to Motown’s Norman Whitfield, the music producer responsible for Starr’s “War” and The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
Fresh off of the success of the movie “Cooley High,” director Michael Schultz contracted Whitfield to score his next movie, a musical comedy called “Car Wash.” In what was a rare instance of a Hollywood film creating the soundtrack to correspond with the movie’s storyline, Whitfield employed TCU, now rebranded Rose Royce (partly after their new singer, Gwen “Rose” Dickey). By late 1976, three of the soundtrack’s cuts hit Billboard’s popular music and R&B charts, and “Car Wash” became a number-one single on the pop charts while “I Wanna Get Next to You” climbed to number 10.
The 1977 follow-up album, “Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom,” spawned two Top 10 singles, “Do Your Dance” and “Ooh Boy” while “Wishing on a Star” reached the Top 10 in the U.K. Meanwhile, 1978’s “Rose Royce III: Strikes Again!,” boasted the top-selling “I’m in Love (And I Love the Feeling)” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” a song covered in 1984 by Madonna.
Come this weekend, it will all be “going down” in Marina del Rey, says Kenny Coleman, lead vocalist and trumpet-player and one of the group’s founding members.