Lost but not least! Leon Haywood – Tenderoni (Modern Records)
Although he never pretended he was an innovator, Leon Haywood has obviously influenced many artists. With thanks to his songwriting / arranging and production skills which got him to deliver a unique sound during the Disco days. From the memorable ‘Don’t Push It Don’t Force It’ to ‘I’m Out To Catch’. Not to mention ‘Tenderoni’, in the vein of ‘She’s A Bad Mama Jama’ which he produced for Carl Carlton.
Hard to understand though why ‘Tenderoni’ didn’t get to reach the recognition it deserved. Unless for internal record industry affair. With the label – Modern Records (a subdivision of Atlantic) – keeping on hold the ‘Now And Then’ album that was supposed to follow.
“Tenderoni” (slang): a young hip, attractively classy girl who is looking for love in all the wrong places. She still has some childishness / youth in her, yet is at least a teenager.
Houston, TX native Otha Leon Haywood first got into Blues as a child, playing piano by the age of 3. He eventually accompanied Guitar Slim in his teens. Then he came his first single – ‘The Squat/Without A Love’ – as an organist along with saxophonist Big Jay McNeely‘s formation back in 1962. Before joining Sam Cooke‘s band as a keyboardist until the singer’s death in 1964.
He would meet sporadic success as a singer. This, until his move to 20 Century Fox Records/MCA and the incorporation of Disco and Funk vibes on his repertoire.
His biggest chart success is without a single doubt ‘Don’t Push It Don’t Force It’. A cut taken from his 1980 ‘Naturally’ album which, ironically, would be his last for MCA. The year after seeing the release of the freaky ‘I’m Out To Catch’. A song where he shared the duties with Karen Roberts, taken from his ‘It’s Me Again’ album on Casablanca Records. That same year seeing the release of the memorable ‘She’s a Bad Mama Jama’ which he wrote for Carl Carlton. His last R&B chart record being the groovy ‘Tenderoni’, from an album – ‘Now And Then’ – which, for some reason, never saw the light.
More or less considered as a one hit wonder, Leon Haywood‘s music would nevertheless influence many artists along with time. From Aaliyah to Common, 50 Cent and Redman to name but a few. Not to mention Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre who notoriously sampled his 1975 released ‘I Want’ A Do Something Freaky To You’ on ‘Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang’ back in 1992.
Leon Haywood sadly died in his sleep on Apr.05, 2016, aged 74.