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"Dolemite" Actor, Hip-Hop Muse Rudy Ray Moore Dies At 81

October 20, 2008 3:44 PM ET

Dolemite actor Rudy Ray Moore died last week due to complications from diabetes. He was 81. In addition to being a blaxploitation film icon thanks to Dolemite, his character's fast-talking, street-walking persona served as a blueprint for many hip-hop stars whom he would inspire. Moore was one of the early champions of the hip-hop culture and collaborated with artists like Snoop Dogg, Big Daddy Kane and 2 Live Crew (on the song "Throw the Dick.") After starting out as a singer, Moore made the segue into comedy, releasing over 30 comedy albums and appearing in 18 films over the course of his career, but he'll always remembered for his role as Dolomite, the silver-tongued pimp. Moore helped paved the way for comics like Richard Pryor, as Moore's records were often so controversial for their language that stores would either refuse to stock his albums or place them behind the counter in brown bags. In 2000, Moore resurrected the Dolemite character for the first time in 20 years for the Insane Clown Posse film Big Money Hustlas. Moore is survived by his daughter and 98 year-old mother.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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