Music & Nightlife

CeeLo pays tribute to his surprising musical roots

CeeLo Green
CeeLo Green

CeeLo Green can tell you the exact moment his path as a musician and performer started.

“When I was a kid – I’m not sure what year – I may have 3 or 4 or 5 or 6. But I was watching ‘Solid Gold’ hosted by Marilyn McCoo. The Plasmatics and Wendy O. Williams were performing,” remembers Green. Watching the November 1981 clip on YouTube, it’s evident the infamously controversial Plasmatics, with Williams shouting and growling in a leather bikini and knee-high boots, was unlike anything on the Top 40-based series at the time. CeeLo was attracted to the image of Williams’ blond Mohawk.

“As long as I can remember, I always wanted a Mohawk. She had a headpiece with a horn in the forehead,” he adds. “I thought this was such an awesome contradiction to the straight-laced staging of ‘Solid Gold.’ It just got at me. As long as I can remember my first love was punk rock music.”

His other early influence was Kiss.

“Being afraid of Kiss, I was so scared and intrigued. I had the (1975) album ‘Dressed To Kill,’ and I would sit and stare at the cover. They’re wearing these suits, and Gene Simmons wore these big (platform) shoes,” says Green, who marveled at The Demon’s footwear. “I love glam.”

While CeeLo may not cover Kiss or the Plasmatics Saturday at Amos’ Southend, the former “Voice” coach – best known for monster hits “F*** You” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” as well as his stint with Goodie Mob – will pay tribute to his musical roots and the musical history of the South.

Hence the stripped-down tour (no female backing band this time) of intimate Southern clubs – the birthplace of soul and blues as well as some of the influential artists he namechecks.

“It’s completely appropriate to the aesthetic we were going for. The intimate venues and being able to touch the crowd,” says this man who describes himself as a “broken levee for American melody.”

Green attributes his success to those who came before him: Ike and Tina Turner, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday and B.B. King.

“My aspirations? It’s due to what I’m inspired by and motivates me. This is a bit more confirmation if people want to know where my cool, my confidence comes from or my core is located.”

The tour also touches on Green’s latest album, “Heart Blanche.” On one track he pays loving tribute to another influence, comedian Robin Williams. What could’ve been a tearjerker turned out as a upbeat track with a lot of heart.

“Yeah, that’s me,” says Green, of his hopeful, positive approach to even dark subjects. “I’ve had a lot of loss in my life. I’ve lost my mother, father and friends and of course Robin Williams. Shamelessly, I wanted to celebrate his life and celebrate life in general for those who are left in these circumstances.

“He was trying his damnedest to guide us through. It’s sad. But what’s sadder, he being at inner peace and accomplishing what he set out to do? What he had to do?” he continues. “No one has been compelled enough to pick up his cross. He got us as far as he could. We’re all passing through. We should always be mindful of that. Love one another. Be mindful, be present.”

CeeLo Green

When: 9 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St.

Tickets: $29.50-$35.

Details: 704-377-6874; www.amossouthend.com.

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