This past weekend I was watching the Sanford and Son marathon on TV Land. I have always been a fan of the show and Redd Foxx (whose real name is John Sanford), was a brilliant and dynamic presence. My wife also pointed out to me that Demond Wilson’s contribution to the show has been grossly underrated. Something that was painfully obvious in the Sanford and Son spin-off Sanford (1980-1981). One of my favorite comedic bits that Redd Foxx did, besides having the fake heart attacks and insulting Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page), was singing The Ink Spots’ song If I Didnt Care, or as Fred Sanford liked to call it "The Anthem" (His best rendition was on the Hawaiian episode). He always sang the line, "And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare? Would all this be true if I didn't care for you?" Redd Foxx was a huge fan of the '30s vocal group but the network would not pay the expensive royalties. Out of his love for the group Redd Foxx paid the royalties out of his own pocket.
My dad is also a big Ink Spots fan as well as a Sanford and Son fan. When I was visiting my family in Orlando, my brother wanted to check out this new Virgin Megastore. He was told that this was the greatest music store in the world and that this place was so big that you could find any music you could ever want there. When my dad saw the inside of the store he knew that amongst the thousands of CDs, he could find The Ink Spots. Normally when you are at a Virgin Megastore you can go to one of many computer terminals and look up a song or an artist. Of course when we are there the computer system was down so we had to look for it on our own. Being guys we didn’t need to ask for help. We started with the Oldies section, where there were hundreds of CDs, but no Ink Spots. We went to the Classics section, again hundreds of CD, but no Ink Spots. We went to the Black Artist’s section, again hundreds of CD, but no Ink Spots. After dedicating all this time looking though thousands of CDs, we broke down and went to ask for help. Several twenty something employees who pride themselves on their vast musical knowledge, had never heard of the Ink Spots. One employee suggested that we check the Vintage section. Vintage? They have yet another synonym for old. The Vintage section consisted of 2 shelves with half a dozen CDs, but no Ink Spots. I went through the plastic tabs that separate the CDs and found a tab marked Ink Spots. I showed the tab to the employee who then takes a key and opens a cabinet. Under the shelves, we found The Ink Spots Greatest Hits 1939-46 the Original Decca Recordings.
We went home and got some beers and listened to the CD. I was still bothered that these music experts did not know who The Ink Spots were. I know who the Ink Spots are and I'm not a music expert, I'm a TV expert (I learned about The Ink Spots thanks to Redd Foxx). My 25-year-old sister Rachel comes home. Rachel was a week away from graduating Law School, well read, cultured and the smartest of the Figueroa children. I had to ask Rachel, "Who are The Ink Spots?" She said, "Weren't they a cartoon?" I guess I can’t be to judgmental. When my friends were buying music I was buying comedy albums. Funny that I learn music appreciation from a comedian or should I say from his alter ego Fred G. Sanford, that's S-A-N-F-O-R-D-Period, and the G. stands for Golden Oldie.