Soul legend shares advice
Eddie Floyd's Rock And Rules

The guide to surviving a life in music, by those who know best.

The way we love Eddie Floyd is frightening. This month, the ‘Knock On Wood’ Stax star takes his turn as a musical mentor.


There were all these artists that I had the chance to see as a child, and grew up with them also, through the years. So I got to hear all these different styles of music, and I tried to listen to all the styles. I write that way also; I’ll have an idea of something, it may be a blues, it might be what I call an ‘uptown’ song, or gospel... I just came up with all of it, through my mom, and that helped me towards writing and performing all the way through the years. If you’re just gonna do hip-hop, that’s all you’ll be. You’ve got to let your mind be free. You should always be willing to do something different. Don’t try to just stick with one style. You can do so much with music; it may be just the same basic chords, but there are a lot of different ways to put them together.


Touring was always easy for me: you’re going places, you’re seeing things, you’re learning things. Was it frightening because I was young? No! It was good to be out! If you’re destined to be an artist, I don’t think people like that were ever afraid. Even to go on stage and sing in front of everybody. I never thought about that, and nobody’s ever scared me. You go up on stage and you just perform.


I would sit down to write a song with Steve Cropper - he had his guitar - then we’d bring our song into the studio with a group, and they’d just bounce right off what we just put together. The drummer hears the rhythm of the guitar, then the bass player comes in and he starts playing a bass line that we didn’t hear. Everybody forms their own rhythm. They come up with a compliment to the original melody; ‘Yeah, that sounds good, let’s try that’. Nobody’s sitting around with pencils and paper - it’s all about the mind. Everybody understands the music. Unless you want to sit down and write all them parts, and bring in some people who’ve never heard anything and then say, ‘Here, play this’. They do that too. I’d rather bring in guys with their own minds who can listen to the music and contribute to it.


The experience of anything is essential. If you don’t know nothin’, you can’t write nothin’. Never forget from where you came. If you remember all of that, you might come up with something. People are people - then, now and later. They still do very much the same things, no matter what it is.


You got to be precise in what you’re doing and take no prisoners. If that’s what you say you want to do then just do it. If you put your heart in it then it can happen for you, but if you don’t really have it in your heart, you’ll just do a little of it then maybe quit. You’ve got to be really dedicated. I don’t care what nobody says. I’ve not stopped singing since I started with The Falcons in 1955. I have no other job, and no other qualifications, other than I could be a farmer! But that’s my choice. I have never stopped.

Interview by Simon Harper

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