Always a Commodore – Ron LaPread

When Ronald LaPread came home to Tuskegee recently, he was so warm and gracious it was instantly clear that his legendary status has not changed him.

As the bass player for The Commodores, his creative energy produced those opening licks on “Brickhouse,” an R&B classic that was released in 1977, exactly 40 years ago.

During his brief visit, LaPread reconnected with former bodyguard, Johnny Bailey who now operates the Commodore Museum in Tuskegee.

The museum is located in the former recording studio for The Commodores, located at 208 East Martin Luther King Highway in Tuskegee.

Entering the building is like traveling back in time to the days when The Commodores rehearsed and recorded here. Everywhere you turn, there is an authentic element related to the years when The Commodores kept this place rocking. The hits birthed here include “Sweet Love,” “Just To Be Close To You,”  “Zoom” and “Three Times a Lady.” The chart topper, “Brickhouse” also was recorded here. Released in 1977, “Brickhouse” reached its 40th anniversary this year.

There is a movie showing Lionel Richie in his stylish convertible, picking up country music star Kenny Rogers at the airport. On the video, the two musicians drive around Tuskegee with Lionel acting as tour guide. Once they arrived at The Commodores studio, they made magic. It was here that The Commodores and Kenny Rogers teamed for a special production of the hit song “Lady,” in preparation for a national television show.

This film is a treasure and watching it is worth the price of admission. This venue is to Tuskegee what the Motown Museum is to Detroit. With the costumes stored here (still in perfect condition), vinyl records, throwbacks involving the Commodores as the opening act for the Jackson 5, recording equipment and other fascinating relics, it is a step back to a glorious time when Tuskegee musicians ruled the charts. So it was special to have Ron LaPread, live and in-person at the museum. He was welcomed by Carver Festival organizers, Dr. Elaine Harrington and Bobby Davis.

People who have known him since childhood, showed up and during a Meet and Greet, he laughed and reminisced.

He received a sketch portrait from Tuskegee resident and esteemed artist, Dr. Ronald McDowell. And he allowed cameras to roll during a rehearsal. This is when ECHOboom captured the famous bass player who showed his versatility on the keyboards and as a vocalist.

To watch the ECHOboom video, click here.

For information on the Commodore Museum, call 334.724.0777.