It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Music was always a hobby; as a young man in his twenties, Darondo had actually trained to be an electrician. However, when he half-seriously told his friends that he wanted to record a record, their skepticism only fueled his desire to go out and get it done. “So many people out there were talking, ‘Darondo, you’re not going to do nothing,’ ” he recalls. He responded by insisting, “I’m going to show you suckers something. I don’t care if I have to do it myself; I’m going to put this thing out.”
One of the great ironies to Darondo’s music is that as angelic as his voice could be, his day-to-day life and profession were bound up in the earthliest of human desires. The man was a pimp—literally. For many years, both preceding and following his music career, Darondo was a local pimping legend, on par with Fillmore Slim and other Player’s Ball VIPs.
To be sure, it’s a topic that the man himself refuses to speak about, neither confirming nor denying, though he does elliptically refer to it as his “fast life” days. If even half the stories of his pimping days are true, “fast” is an understatement. Not only did the lifestyle pay well—he didn’t get the nickname “Rolls Royce” for running a car dealership—but it also brought him into contact with many local notables, including Sly Stone, whose infamous mansion/home studio was a frequent destination for Darondo and his stable of women.
Even in the midst of this life, Darondo could see the dark side creeping up. Though he recorded “Let My People Go” about ten years before he got out of pimping for good, he explains that the song encapsulated much of the concern he felt for those who couldn’t handle the fast life. “People wanted the money thing; if it ain’t about money, it’s about sex. In the end of it, all it adds up to is destruction. That’s why I was singing, ‘Let My People Go.’ I’m talking about: give us a land, or island in the sea, good food so we can work the land, so we could all live in harmony—the Black man, the White man—everybody lives in peace. All you other suckers, go ahead and do what you want to do.”
While he wasn’t recording music anymore, he still found ways to use his singing and playing to positive effect. In another strange twist of careers, Darondo ended up as a physical therapist for a few years, after his TV days had ended. He’d bring his guitar into the hospital and play for the sick and infirm, and, as a form of therapy, it often produced unexpected results, even from those suffering from paralyzing strokes. “I was amazed at the responses I was getting for the music,” he says. “They would be sitting up there all day, trying to blink their eye or do something. The music, a lot of the time, would bring stuff out of them.”