Rudolph Frank Moore (March 17, 1927 – October 19, 2008), known as Rudy Ray Moore, was an American comedian, singer, actor, and film producer.[1] He created the character Dolemite, the pimp from the 1975 film Dolemite and its sequels, The Human Tornado and The Dolemite Explosion (aka The Return of Dolemite).[2] The persona was developed during his early comedy records.[3][4] The recordings often featured Moore delivering profanity-filled rhyming poetry, which later earned Moore the nickname "the Godfather of Rap."[4] Actor and comedian Eddie Murphy portrayed Moore in the 2019 film Dolemite Is My Name.

Rudy Ray Moore
Moore in 2007
Rudolph Frank Moore

(1927-03-17)March 17, 1927
DiedOctober 19, 2008(2008-10-19) (aged 81)
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • singer
  • film producer
Musical career
Years active1948–2008

Early life edit

Moore was born and raised in the Johnson House on 1400 North 12th Street in Fort Smith, Arkansas,[5] and eventually moved to Akron, Ohio, and then Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Milwaukee, he preached in churches and worked as a nightclub dancer.[6] He returned to Akron, working in clubs as a singer, dancer, and comedian, often appearing in character as Prince DuMarr.[7] He joined the US Army and served in an entertainment unit in Germany, where he was nicknamed the Harlem Hillbilly for singing country songs in an R&B style.[1] He developed an interest in comedy in the Army after expanding on a singing performance for other servicemen.[8]

After his honorable discharge he lived in Seattle, Washington and then Los Angeles, where he continued to work in clubs and was discovered by record producer Dootsie Williams.[6] He recorded rhythm and blues songs for the Federal, Cash, Ball, Kent, and Imperial labels between 1955 and 1962, and released his first comedy albums, Below the Belt (1961), The Beatnik Scene (1962), and A Comedian Is Born (1964).[8][9]

Career edit

Dolemite records and wider acclaim edit

By his own account, Brown was working at the world famous Dolphin's of Hollywood record store in Los Angeles in 1970 when he began hearing obscene stories of "Dolemite" recounted by a local man named Rico. Moore recorded a number of street poets, including Big Brown who, before he moved to Los Angeles, had been an influence on Bob Dylan, among other artists, while living in Greenwich Village. (Dylan said Brown's poetry was the best poetry he had ever heard.)[10] In 1973, Moore produced Brown's album, The First Man of Poetry, Big Brown: Between Heaven and Hell.

According to Moore, there was a wino named Rico, and Moore heard him on the street corner doing all these raps and rhymes:[11]

Rico, you do "Dolemite", I'm gonna give you some money for soup. He did "Dolemite" in the middle of the floor in the store I was working and the people just rolled. So I thought then, he's not a professional; I'm a professional comedian. What if I did "Dolemite"? Sure enough, I invited him to my house, give him a little reefer and some wine. He put "Dolemite" on tape, I recorded it, the rest is history.

Moore began recording the stories, and assumed the role of "Dolemite" in his club act and on recordings.[12] In 1970–71 he recorded three albums of material, Eat Out More Often, This Pussy Belongs To Me, and The Dirty Dozens, where "with jazz and R&B musicians playing in the background, [Moore] would recite raunchy, sexually explicit rhymes that often had to do with pimps, prostitutes, players, and hustlers."[13]

Moore was influenced by more mainstream comedians such as Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, as well as by traditions such as the Dozens. The recordings were usually made in Moore's apartment, with friends in attendance to give a party atmosphere. The album covers and contents were often too racy to be put on display in record stores,[12] but the records became popular through word of mouth and were highly successful in Black American communities,[1] where his "warped wit and anti-establishment outlook" were embraced.[4]

Dolemite movie and later success edit

Moore in 2008

Moore spent most of his earnings from the records to finance the movie Dolemite, which started filming in January, 1974. It was released and distributed nationally beginning in April 1975, and has been described as "one of the great blaxploitation movies" of the 1970s.[3][4] The character was "the ultimate ghetto hero: a bad dude, profane, skilled at kung-fu, dressed to kill and hell-bent on protecting the community from evil menaces. He was a pimp with a kung-fu-fighting clique of prostitutes and he was known for his sexual prowess."[12]

The film was successful and was followed by The Human Tornado, The Monkey Hustle, and Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-in-Law. Moore continued to release albums that appealed to his enduring fanbase through the 1970s and 1980s, but little of his work reached a white audience. His "rapid-fire rhyming salaciousness exceeded the wildest excesses" of Foxx and Pryor,[1] and his highly explicit style kept him off television and major films.[3][12] At the same time, Moore often spoke in his church and regularly took his mother to the National Baptist Convention. He said that: "I wasn't saying dirty words just to say them... It was a form of art, sketches in which I developed ghetto characters who cursed. I don't want to be referred to as a dirty old man, rather a ghetto expressionist."[12]

Later career edit

In 1990, Moore appeared on Big Daddy Kane's album Taste of Chocolate[14] and Eric B. & Rakim's music video for "In The Ghetto".[15] Four years later, he appeared on Method Man's album Tical[15] and 2 Live Crew's album Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4.[16] 2 Live Crew attributed their use of obscenity-laden lyrics to Moore's act.[15] After appearing on a 1995 episode of Martin titled "The Players Came Home",[17] he reprised the Dolemite character for the intro of Busta Rhymes' album When Disaster Strikes...[18] Snoop Dogg's 1999 album No Limit Top Dogg, and Ol' Dirty Bastard‘s 1999 music video "Got Your Money“, in which the rapper was digitally inserted into scenes of Dolemite.[19] He again reprised Dolemite in the 2000 film Big Money Hustlas, a film created by and starring the rap-rock group Insane Clown Posse.[20] In 2001, Moore was a featured guest in the intro of Busta Rhymes' album Genesis.[15] Five years later, Moore voice-acted in the show Sons of Butcher, as Rudy, and Joseph in season 2.[21] Moore reprised the character Petey Wheatstraw on the 2008 song "I Live for the Funk", which featured Blowfly and Daniel Jordan. It marked the first time Blowfly and Moore collaborated on the same record together, as well as the 30-year anniversary of the movie Petey Wheatstraw; it was also the final recording Moore made before his death.[22]

Personal life edit

Moore never married. His long-time manager, Donald Randall, said in 2012 that Moore had both female and male lovers.[23] Entertainer Stanton Z. LaVey, a friend of Moore's, said in 2019 that Moore was "very much bisexual, if not gay", and that his Dolemite persona helped cover it up.[24]

Death edit

On October 19, 2008, Moore died in Akron, Ohio, of complications from diabetes. His mother, two brothers, a sister, a daughter, and grandchildren survived him.[12]

Legacy edit

He came to be regarded as a major influence by many later rap stars. Snoop Dogg said that "without Rudy Ray Moore, there would be no Snoop Dogg, and that's for real."[1]

On June 7, 2018, it was announced that Craig Brewer would direct Dolemite Is My Name from a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski with Netflix producing and distributing and Eddie Murphy starring as Moore.[25][26] Later that month, the rest of the principal cast was announced.[27][28][29] In July 2018, Chris Rock and Ron Cephas Jones joined the cast.[30] Principal photography began on June 12, 2018.[31] In August 2019, the trailer was released. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and received a limited release on October 4, 2019, before digital streaming on October 25, 2019.

In January 2022, a detailed biography, Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself: The Authorized Biography of Rudy Ray Moore aka Dolemite by Mark Jason Murray, was released. It was noted as the definitive story on Moore's entire life, career and legacy.[citation needed]

Discography edit

Albums edit

  • Below the Belt (1959)
  • Beatnik Scene (1962)
  • A Comedian Is Born (1964)
  • Let's Come Together (1970, recorded 1967)
  • Eat Out More Often (1970) (Kent KST 001)
  • This Pussy Belongs to Me (1971)[32] (Kent KST 002) – with "The Signifying Monkee"
  • Dolemite for President (1972)
  • Merry Christmas, Baby
  • The Cockpit – with "Petey Wheatstraw – The Devil's Son-in-Law"
  • Return of Dolemite (featuring The Grunts & Groans of Love)
  • The Sensuous Black Man – by "The Prince"
  • Zodiac
  • I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing
  • Jokes by Redd Foxx
  • Live in Concert
  • The Player—The Hustler
  • House Party: Dirty Dozens Vol. 1
  • The Streaker
  • Dolemite Is Another Crazy Nigger
  • Sweet Peeter Jeeter
  • Close Encounter of the Sex Kind
  • Good-Ole Big Ones
  • Hip-Shakin' Papa
  • Greatest Hits (1995)
  • This Ain't No White Christmas
  • Raw, Rude, and Real—More Greatest Hits
  • Phantom Surfers – XXX Party (2000)
  • 21st-Century Dolemite (2002)
  • Genius of Rudy Ray Moore
  • Dolemite for President — Special Edition (2008)
  • 50 Years of Cussing (2009)
  • 50 Years of Cussing, Vol. 2 (2019)
  • The Turning Point (1972)
  • Hully Gully Fever (2000; compilation)

Singles edit

  • "Step It Up and Go" (King Records)
  • "Below the Belt" (Dooto)
  • "The Roosevelt" (Dooto)
  • "Let's Come Together"
  • "My Soul" – The Seniors (Ball 001)
  • "Rally in the Valley" (Vermont 105-45)
  • "Hully Gully Papa" (Case Records 1006)

Filmography edit

Year Title Role Notes
1975 Dolemite Dolemite
1976 The Human Tornado Dolemite
The Monkey Hu$tle Goldie
1977 Petey Wheatstraw Petey
1979 Disco Godfather Tucker Williams
1982 Penitentiary II Husband
1995 Murder Was the Case: The Movie Dolemite Short
1996 Martin Dolemite Episode: "The Players Came Home"
1997 Violent New Breed Pastor Williams Direct-to-video
B*A*P*S Nate
Fakin' da Funk Larry
1999 Shaolin Dolemite Monk Ru-Dee Direct-to-video
Jackie's Back Bad Guy TV
2000 Big Money Hustlas Dolemite Direct-to-video
Shoe Shine Boys
2002 The Return of Dolemite Dolemite aka The Dolemite Explosion
Live At Wetlands N.Y.C. Himself September 2000 music performance and comedy at Wetlands in New York City
The Legend of Dolemite: Bigger and Badder Himself DVD release with performance clips and interviews with Moore
Rude Himself 1982 comedy performance at Blueberry Hill in Los Angeles
2003 The Watermelon Heist Angel of Death
2005 Vampire Assassin
2006–2007 Sons of Butcher Rudy the psychic janitor, Joseph TV series
Season 2, 4 episodes
2007 A Stupid Movie for Jerks Cop
2009 It Came from Trafalgar Dangerous Dan Posthumous release, (final film role)
2019 Dolemite Is My Name Himself Archive footage; posthumous release

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e Douglas Martin, "Rudy Ray Moore, 81, a Precursor of Rap, Dies", NY Times, 22 October 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  2. ^ Reid, Shaheem. "Dolemite Tells Dirty Jokes, Warns Snoop Of His Mic Supremacy". MTV News.
  3. ^ a b c Allmusic Biography by Cub Koda. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  4. ^ a b c d Soren Baker, "`Dolemite' star explores music", The Chicago Tribune, 10 May 2002. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  5. ^ Koch, Stephen (November 4, 2019). "Straight outta Westark: Rudy Ray Moore". Arkansas Times. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Dootsie Williams, Liner notes for Below The Belt. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  7. ^ Obituary, Rudolph Frank "Rudy Ray Moore" Moore, 21 October 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  8. ^ a b Biography by Mark Jason Murray at Rudy Ray Moore website. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  9. ^ Discography at Retrieved February 23, 2014
  10. ^ "Bill Flanagan interviewed Bob Dylan in New York in March 1985 for his 1985 book "Written In My Soul."". Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  11. ^ Interview with Moore on DVD "The Legend of Dolemite: Bigger and Badder"
  12. ^ a b c d e f Jocelyn Y Stewart, "Obituary: Rudy Ray Moore", Los Angeles Times, 21 October 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2014
  13. ^ Alex Henderson, Review of This Pussy Belongs To Me at Retrieved February 23, 2014
  14. ^ Mack, Bob (November 23, 1990). "Taste of Chocolate". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  15. ^ a b c d Chow, Andrew R. (October 25, 2019). "Rappers Reflect on the Enduring Hip-Hop Legacy of Dolemite Comedian Rudy Ray Moore". Time. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  16. ^ Hess, Mickey (2010). Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide. Greenwood Press. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-313-34325-4.
  17. ^ "Martin | TV Guide". Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  18. ^ Billboard. June 6, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  19. ^ Rabin, Nathan (October 20, 2008). "Rudy Ray Moore RIP". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  20. ^ Rabin, Nathan (March 29, 2002). "Big Money Hustlas". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  21. ^ Smith, Scott (October 24, 2019). "Eddie Murphy's new film focuses on Fort Smith native". Southwest Times Record. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  22. ^ I Live 4 The Funk – Analog Medium
  23. ^ Higgins, Keenan (November 20, 2012). "New Doc Reveals Details of 'Dolemite' Actor Rudy Ray Moore's Sexuality". Vibe. Retrieved June 16, 2021; Jordan, Carlton. "Exclusive: Longtime Manager Says Rudy Ray Moore AKA 'Dolemite' Was Gay". Archived from the original on November 27, 2012.
  24. ^ LaVey, Stanton Z. (October 5, 2019). "My Coke-Fueled Nights With Dolemite". Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  25. ^ Galuppo, Mia (June 7, 2018). "Eddie Murphy to Star as Rudy Ray Moore for Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  26. ^ McNary, Dave (June 8, 2018). "Film News Roundup: Eddie Murphy to Star in Biopic 'Dolemite Is My Name' for Netflix".
  27. ^ "Wesley Snipes Joins Eddie Murphy in Netflix's 'Dolemite Is My Name!' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. June 14, 2018.
  28. ^ "T.I. in Talks to Join Eddie Murphy in Netflix's 'Dolemite Is My Name!' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. June 25, 2018.
  29. ^ "Keegan-Michael Key Joins Eddie Murphy in 'Dolemite Is My Name!' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. June 28, 2018.
  30. ^ "'This Is Us' Star Ron Cephas Jones Joins Eddie Murphy in 'Dolemite' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. July 25, 2018.
  31. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 7, 2018). "Eddie Murphy to Star as Rudy Ray Moore for Netflix". Deadline. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  32. ^ "This Pussy Belongs to Me – Rudy Ray Moore | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.

External links edit