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Coleman's friendship skills helped take the Mashed Potatoes worldwide. He spent the next five summers producing, emceeing, and performing in the overseas "Manhattan Parade" tour. The show kicked off in Sweden and spent a month traveling through India and Europe. Coleman remembers Manhattan Parade as a fiery show that blew the roof off, no matter where it played. "When we got to Stockholm, we told them we wouldn't give any interviews until after the performance at the Tivoli Gardens. It was a 30-minute show. They stopped the park for 30 minutes! They stopped the rides. They'd never seen such energy! Black entertainers are respected all over the world, except here in America."
That lack of respect, along with a vicious car wreck (from which he emerged unscathed), convinced Coleman to hang it up in 1967. He enrolled in Harlem's Convent Bible school to study the ministry. "I wasn't out to make a lifetime of 'mashing potatoes' and emceeing and things," he says. "After being saved from death and stupidity, one has to look to a higher power for making that all possible. After horses have made their owners millions of dollars, they put them out to pasture," he continues. "However, most entertainers who've retired from show business end up in oblivion. But by the grace of God, I was chosen into the ministry. It took me to another level. You see, when I became a minister [he was ordained in 1974], it was to be concerned with the have-nots. Respect everyone's position, work together to make it better, and share it. That was my whole format, you understand me? Because everybody on the face of the earth has three things in common -- heart, flesh, and blood -- and if anybody thinks they're better than me, they're a sack of mud!"
You can take the Mashed Potato Man out of show business, but you can't take the show business out of the Mashed Potato Man. When the advance team for the James Earl Jones film Claudine hit Harlem in 1973 without consulting anyone in the neighborhood, a livid Coleman went down to give them a piece of his mind. He impressed the producers enough to get cast -- as a rabble-rousing preacher. Over the next 12 years, Coleman acted in a number of roles -- including a recurring part as Freddy Washington's dad in Welcome Back Kotter.
In 1985, Coleman returned to Miami and discovered that the music he'd helped create was exploding. Its new incarnation, Miami bass (a.k.a. booty music), combined the shouting and dance-party themes of his records with lurid swaggers, a mix that was nuked over booming, uptempo, drum-machine beats. Save for the instrumentation, the similarities between Coleman's '60s material and '80s Miami bass were striking. King's "Shimmy! Shimmy!" shout was echoed by Disco Rick & the Dogs' "Wiggle! Wiggle! Wiggle!" The rapped dance instructions on Gucci Crew II's "The Cabbage Patch" evoked those found on Coleman's "(Do the) Hully Gully."
"I don't think anyone could have foreseen booty music back then," Lemlich says. "But when you know 'Loo-key Doo-key' is about a girl, it gets you thinking. They definitely share the same genealogy." Coleman is proud of his rapper descendants. "The hip-hoppers and the rappers today are mainly emphasizing the triple beat on the bass drum. They've added to what we did, taking it to another level. That's what evolution does. It's like what others were doing before me -- I took it to another level. That's why I think it's good that they keep on taking it. Rhythm is alwaysgoing to sell!"