Sam Moore is not happy. My friend (and one of the subjects of a documentary I helped make 10 years ago) is known throughout the world as the “Original Soul Man.” In 1966, he and Dave Prater, as Sam and Dave, had a massive hit called “Soul Man.” It became the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend’s moniker, and keynote song. If Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, and James Brown is the Godfather of Soul, Sam Moore is the Soul Man. That’s it.
Now TVLand is launching a new comedy series called “The Soul Man” starring Cedric the Entertainer. When Moore and his manager wife Joyce caught wind of it, they immediately sent a cease and desist letter through their respected Washington lawyer, Bruce Fein. The Moores are already in litigation with The Weinstein Company over a 2009 movie called “Soul Men.”
The TV Land people assured Fein that “The Soul Man” would not be promoted until both sides at least negotiated some kind of license agreement. But last night “The Soul Man” was featured heavily during “The TVLand Awards.” The show is also being touted on the TVLand website. Fein says he was very surprised. He told me this morning. “I am very disappointed that in the middle of negotiating with TVLand for use of Soul Man as the title of their show–and with the promise of no public advertising until it was done–that they went ahead with a promotional blitz.”
There’s a strong argument here. Sam Moore is 76 years old and “Soul Man” has been his career identity for 40 years. The serious contention here is that one or two seasons of the new show, with syndication, could make new generations think that Cedric the Entertainer is “the Soul Man.” Over the years, others have been more respectful. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi loved Sam & Dave, and based “The Blues Brothers” on the song. Moore was in the movies. Moore even sang a new version of “Soul Man” for the egregious mid ’80s movie starring C. Thomas Howell as a white kid who passed as black to a scholarship. He is commonly referred to by Bruce Springsteen in concert as “the greatest living soul man on the planet.”