Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Onetime former Manhattan Borough President Percy E. Sutton along with his Inner City Broadcasting, after having purchased WBLS-FM in the 1970s, later acquired the Apollo theater in 1983, reviving the establishment as a live music performance venue. It reopened at full capacity in 1985 and was designated a federal, state, and city landmark. The Apollo had garnered a reputation for being one of "the" stops a live performing music act had to make to prove they were worth something throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Today the venue is a symbol of Black music and live performance excellence. It also is a legendary landmark of Black Harlem-- standing as a symbol of Black music's legacy and that of the best in the Black American urban experience.

The renowned DJ Kid Capri recorded a cut in celebration of the Apollo theater in 1991 from his album "The Tape".

Kid Capri Apollo lyrics

I'd like to know.. are you really ready for some super dynamite soul?

Then thank you, because now, it's star time!

The Apollo (4X)

[Kid Capri]

The Apollo a place, where performers perform

Before you got on the stage you would all be warned

about if you're good enough, to rock the place

But if you wasn't they would throw beer cans in your face

Well it was a, amateur night, a group dressed in white

Didn't think it was spectacular but they were alright

Kept sayin to myself, I wish it was me

that was on the stage doin my R-A-P

Well uh, anyway we go back to the days

when James Brown used to have, the crowd amazed

He used to come out, dancin, just doin his work

And when he screamed, all the ladies went bezerk

Slidin across the stage like he was runnin on oil

Shoes, shinin bright like aluminum foil

Women was fallin out, innocent to ?

He said, PLEASE PLEASE then started rappin

You only seen one show you couldn't stay to see another

of the singin Godfather Number One Soul Brother

Events like this happened all the time

at the place that was known to be, one of a kind

It's The Apollo

The Apollo (4X)

[Kid] It's the Apollo!

The Apollo (3X)

The Ap..

[Kid Capri]

The Apollo yes a legend in it's time

The place is so fly that I wish it was mine

I mean the line was so long but people did not care

Just as long as they knew, they could get in there

On Wednesday's, amateur night was cool

And you could, go to see what other artists could do

Nothin but black stars, risin to the top

Now you see what's takin over, we call it hip-hop

The Apollo, no other, could ever compete

When you look down and I see people movin their feet

When the stage used to rise all the people went nuts

And no one EVER kept their big mouth shut

They used to, scream and yell, raise a whole lot of hell

Hang off the balcony and sometimes they fell

It's a tradition, so whatta ya do? I don't know

You get a ticket take yourself to the Apollo, hey

The Showbiz Cafe, was right next door

Leave, from the Apollo and you party some more

You can go many places to have a show

but no matter where you went you always seemed to go

to the Apollo

To the Apollo!

Uhh.. (The Apollo) .. ..

To the Apollo!

And let me break it down for you one time

Hey the A for Artist, the P for People

O for Outstanding, L - for Legal

and the other L-O is for the low-down shame

for the ones, that tried, to destroy the name

So whatever you do, you can never forget

about the place, that always kept you drippin with sweat

From dancin and prancin and jumpin up and down

Everytime you turned around a new show was in town

It's the place, that everybody would always go

And I called it, the famous Apollo

It's the Apollo

It's the Apollo! (The Apollo) UHH!

The Apollo (4X)

[Kid] It's the Apollo, come on!

The Apollo (3X)

[Kid] UHH!

The Apollo (2X)

[Kid] It's the Apollo!

The Apollo (2X)

The Apollo..

If everyone can't/won't come to the Apollo, then the Apollo will come to them. Perhaps that was a part of the thinking of Percy Sutton and his Inner City Broadcasting team back in September of 1987. It was then, on the 12th of that month that they launched the hour long syndicated live music performance show "Showtime at the Apollo" (formerly "It's Showtime at the Apollo"). "Showtime", produced by the Apollo theater itself, debuted right in the middle of, and just in time for, rap music's ascension in American pop culture. MTV and BET and radio (Black and White), save for a few music videos and songs by a select small group of rap artists (RUN-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys, Salt-N-Pepa), still was not embracing rap music as a legitimate art-form deserving of more robust media attention. The debut of "Yo! MTV Raps" was still one year away and radio relegated rap music to the later hours of the night for a handful of hours on weekends.

Into that void entered Sutton's "Showtime at the Apollo". The show, airing every late saturday night (it did in MD.) would feature live performances from both professional artists and artists creepin' on the come-up, as well as the famous Amateur Night competition. Watching the show would offer young (and perhaps not so young) fans of rap (and R and B) a glimpse of their favorite rappers doing their thing in a live performance setting. RUN-DMC, Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, the Fat Boys, Whodini, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince (AKA film actor Will Smith) all contributed now classic appearances on the program.

So, again, we have the legendary Mr. Percy Sutton to thank for his visionary efforts at media ownership and control.