The 1973 concert film/documentary, Wattstax, documented a 1972 concert in Los Angeles featuring some of the largest acts in soul music. The film also consisted of several compelling interviews with people in the Watts neighborhood talking about the black experience.
The concert, which only cost $1 to attend, took place at the Los Angeles Coliseum in August of 1972 and featured many acts from the Stax family of record labels, including such luminaries as Isaac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers, Rance Allen, and many more. Richard Pryor serves as a narrator of sorts, giving commentary on current events in separately filmed vignettes in between performances and interviews.
Here are some of our favorite moments from this classic film.
1. Richard Pryor
2. I Am Somebody!
Jesse Jackson opened the day’s festivities with a rousing speech, including the now-legendary “I Am Somebody” mantra. It’s nation time!
3. Black Love!
You would be hard pressed to get a bunch of black men and women to speak this highly of each other in in 2010.
4. Rufus Thomas Does The Funky Chicken
We wanted to put all of Rufus Thomas’ screen time in this film, but we settled on this killer version of “Do The Funky Penguin.” Check out Rufus’ pink shirt and shorts!
5. The Emotions sing “Peace Be Still”
CHURCH!! The Emotions were not part of the concert at Los Angeles Coliseum, but they were filmed performing in an area church. Watch as they give one of the best recorded performances of “Peace Be Still” in existence.