The Main Ingredient

The Main Ingredient was an American soul-funk/psych group from Manhattan that first recorded as The Poets in the mid-1960s and as the The Insiders during that latter part of the decade. As the Main Ingredient,  the band released 11 albums on RCA Victor between 1970 and 1981.

Members: Luther Simmons, Jr. (vocals, 1968-77, 1979-81, 1986), Tony Silvester (vocals, 1968-76, 1979-81, 1986-91), Donald McPherson (vocals, 1968-71), Cuba Gooding (vocals, 1971-77, 1979-81, 1986-91), Carl Tompkins (vocals, 1976-77)

The Main Ingredient had their roots in The Poets, a soul trio formed in 1964 Harlem by singers Donald McPherson (1941–1971), Luther Simmons, Jr., and Panamanian expat Tony Silvester. In 1965, they issued “Merry Christmas Baby” (b/w “I’m Stuck On You”), produced by Leiber & Stoller and released on the songwriting duo’s Red Bird label.

The Poets became The Insiders for their second Red Bird single, “I’m Stuck On You” (b/w “Chapel Bells Are Calling”), released in 1966. The following year, they signed to RCA and issued two further Insiders singles: “If You Had a Heart” (b/w “Movin’ On”) and “I’m Better Off Without You” (b/w “I’m Just a Man”). In 1968, they made a final name-change to The Main Ingredient, taken from a Coke bottle.

Linking with producer/arranger Bert DeCoteaux (Maxine Brown, Pat Lundy, Jean Wells, Irene Reid), The Main Ingredient “debuted” in 1969 with the group-original “Brotherly Love,” backed with a cover of The Beatles‘ “Get Back.” In 1970, they scored their first R&B charter with “You’ve Been My Inspiration,” included on their debut album, L.T.D. 


  • L.T.D. (1970)
  • Tasteful Soul (1970)
  • Black Seeds (1971)
  • Bitter Sweet (1972)
  • Afrodisiac (1973)
  • Euphrates River (1974)
  • Rolling Down a Mountainside (1975)
  • Shame on the World (1975)
  • Music Maximus (1976)
  • Ready for Love (1980)
  • I Only Have Eyes for You (1981)
  • I Just Wanna Love You (1989)


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