Last week, on July 14, 2023, Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier -- former NFL star, preacher, actor, author, RFK bodyguard and needlepoint master -- turned 91 years old.
Happy belated birthday Rosey!
And, oh yeah, this is a music blog, so I should also add "soul singer" to Rosey's resume. In fact, being far more into rock 'n' roll than sports, I first became aware of this giant of a man when I saw him on Shindig and other TV shows in the mid 60s.
Grier was born in Cuthbert, Georgia in 1932. Right after that fact, Wikipedia lists his height at 6'5" and his weight at 284. I assume that wasn't his height and weight at birth.
After playing track and football at Penn State University, Grier was drafted to play defensive tackle for the New York Giants. After eight seasons he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Grier and other members of the Rams' defensive line -- Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones -- became known as "The Fearsome Foursome."
In fact, when I first saw Rosey on Shindig in January 1965 -- an episode that also included The Kinks, The Dave Clark 5, Glen Campbell and Petula Clark -- he was with The Fearsome Foursome. Here's a song from that appearance, with Rosey singing lead and the others just dancing around:
But this wasn't Grier's first splash in the world of music. In fact, he'd been recording singles since 1959 and cut his first album in 1964. This is his first single, a cover of a doo-wop classic made famous a few years earlier by The Moonglows:
I also remember seeing Rosey do this song, which is better known by its version by Johnny Cash
Finally, I'll leave you with this soul classic, originally recorded by Ben E. King (and written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, based on an Italian pop song, "Uno dei Tanti"). This also is from that famous Shindig episode.