- Chi-Lites founder to perform at “Portrait of Achievers’ awards
- Marshall Thompson on tour, releasing book
[By Chinta Strausberg] Marshall Thompson, the last surviving member of the still very popular Chi-Lites, has not only survived a stroke, but he’s coming back stronger than ever and will be on tour, releasing his book and performing 7 p.m., Friday, August 15, 2014, at the Condesa Del Mar, 12220 South Cicero Avenue, in Alsip, Illinois, for Probation Challenge.
Born on Chicago’s South Side to a family of four, Thompson said he first began singing in 1958. Coming from a musical family, he said, “I was destined to be here. I was born an entertainer.
“My father played with some of the best including Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Louis Jordan, and my uncle, Marshall Thompson, played with Dizzy Gillespie…all the top musicians in the country, I got the music bug from my family. All the boys in my family had to play drums at the age of 3.”
Thompson’s group was originally formed in 1960 on the South Side of Chicago. Then his group was named the Hi-Lites but later they changed it to the Chi-Lites with the C designating their hometown of Chicago. Thompson said the group met while they attended DuSable, Hyde Park and Englewood High Schools.
At the age of 17 and for the next year, Thompson played house drums and sang with Gladys Knight and the Pips at the Regal Theater then located at 47thand King Drive since renamed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After leaving her group, Thompson went on the road for three-years playing the drums and singing with Major Lance, known for the record, “The Monkey Time,” and dance so popular in the 1960’s.
Armed with even more musical experience, Thompson set his sights on higher ground. He released his first million seller, “Give More Power to the People,” on the Brunswick label.
From there, the Chi-Lites appeared on the Flip Wilson show, which boosted their career nationally. They released another record, “Oh, Girl,” which spiraled them to number one in the country.
The Chi-Lites quickly became a household name and the group released even more hits like “Have You Seen Her,” “Stoned Out of My Mind,” Homely Girl”—songs they took aboard touring playing in Singapore, Japan, Guam, Hawaii, England, Seoul, Korea, Alaska, France, Spain, Canada, Australia and other countries. “We were number one in all of those countries. We were the hottest things going from 1969 to 1976. Everything we touched was top 10 or top five,” said Thompson.
Then, there were four Chi-Lites, Marshall Thompson, Creadel Jones, Robert Lester, Eugene Record and Clarence Johnson. When asked what kept them together, Thompson, who is the last of the original Chi-Lites, said, “The people and God kept us together. The people loved our music” and that kept the group’s spirit riding high.
Asked about his recent stroke, Thompson said he fell ill while on a Soul Train cruise in St. Maarten just days after the death of Chi-Lites lead singer, Frank Reed passed. Thompson said he stayed in the hospital for two-months. At the time he fell ill, Thompson was performing with The Isley Brothers, Charlie Wilson, Robert Flack and the Commodores. Thompson said his wife, Tara, is taking good care of him. “I’m coming back,” he said.
Asked if he has a new look on life, Thompson said, “I have the same outlook on life before I had the stroke. It’s all in the blessing. The Lord kept me. Several people had strokes the same time I had but they aren’t here anymore. I am thankful to all the people who prayed for me from all over the world,” he said. “I started the group, and I’m the last one here. I guess it was meant to be,” he said.
When asked why do women love his music so much, Thompson chuckled saying, “The women go crazy because they love that music. We do our thing. We look good, but the women love that music. It’s romantic and brings back memories to peoples’ lives. People grew up having babies on that music.”
Thompson said his book, “The Legendary Chi-Lites” featuring Marshall Thompson “Last Man Standing,” will be out in less than two-months just in time for Thompson’s 71st birthday. He was born on August 24th.
Thompson will be on tour next month including in California, and at 7 p.m., Friday, August 15, 2014, he will be performing at the Condesa Del Mar, 12220 South Cicero Avenue, in Alsip, Illinois for the Probation Challenge 35th“Portrait of Achievers’ awards dinner “Show of Shows” program.
Also performing will be the renowned Mitty Collier known for her record “I Had A Talk With My Man Last Night.”
For reservations, please call Rev. Harold E. Bailey, at: 773.978.3706. There will be a full course sit-down dinner. Tickets are $50 and parking is free.