There’s no doubt you have come to this site looking for Dolemite. Rest assured, even with the passing of Rudy Ray Moore in 2008, it is still my intent to keep his legacy alive. But, with the little or no news from the Dolemite front (except for fleeting rumors of a possible remake), I’ve had to expand Dolemite.com into more than just a Rudy Ray Moore tribute site.
With that said, let’s look a bit closer at what likely brought you to the site in the first place.
The abridged origins of Dolemite
Dolemite began as a simple story, or “toast.” A toast is a special type of urban narrative handed down on the streets of the inner city. The origins of the toast go back to Africa where the beginnings of the historical record remained in oral form. So it was up to the storyteller to spin it into a memorable, entertaining form. Over the years, toasts changes from oral narratives to simple rhyming boasts, often with the protagonist being the “baddest person in the world” or some sort of hyper-sexual dynamo in command of women everywhere. While not limited to these constructs, those are generally the most common.
Enter Rudy Ray Moore, a young man working at a record store in Los Angeles. This particular store was frequented by one of the local toothless bums who would stagger in periodically asking for food or money. In return, Rudy Ray would ask the bum to recite the Dolemite toast. He noticed that each time the story was told, the customers would erupt in applause. As a struggling comedian, Rudy Ray saw an opportunity and grabbed it: he would be the first to record Dolemite.
In 1970, Dolemite premiered on the album Eat Out More Often, along with another equally famous toast, Shine and the Great Titanic. The album spent several months on the Billboard Top 25, despite the reluctance of record store owners to even display the controversial album. It was kept under the counter in a brown paper sleeve, and had to be requested since it was not on store shelves. Rudy Ray was very different from other “blue” comedians at the time, and unlike Redd Foxx who used mostly euphemisms and innuendo, Rudy Ray was not shy about recording the true language of the streets.
In 1975, Rudy Ray and a collection of close friends and fellow comedians got together and worked to bring Dolemite to the big screen. The movie made Dolemite not only the King of Pimps and Hustlers, but the King of Blaxploitation Movies. It remains one of the cult favorites of all time.