The Chi-Lites receive the 2,702nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Chi-Lites formed in 1959 in Chicago,IL and since then have had 37 charting singles on the Billboard chart. They have been called the greatest R&B/Soul group to come from Chicago. Yesterday the last surviving original member of the Chi-Lites Marshall Thompson received the award. Joining Thompson was his family, the families of founding members Robert “Squirrel” Lester, Eugene Record, and Creadel “Red” Jones as well as music legends Gene Gandler, Freda Payne, and Claudette Rogers Robinson and Billy Griffin of the Miracles. Thompson was in attendance for Jackie Wilson’s posthumous star in 2019 and mentioned him in his speech as well as joining Michael Jackson on the Walk of Fame. Thompsons shared working with the Jackson 5 and their father Joe which led to them being signed to Motown through Bobby Taylor (The Vancouvers). The award presenters were radio personality Jeff Foxx from New York and actor Jimmie Walker best known for his role as J.J. on Good Times. Joining Thompson was the current group of Tara Thompson, Fred Simon, Warren Tipton, and Mack Miller.
A few of the Chi-Lites hit singles include “Oh, Girl,” “Have You Seen Her?” and “Stoned Out of My Mind.” Their hit albums include A Lonely Man, A Letter To Myself, and their self-titled album.
The star is located at 7057 Hollywood Blvd. right next to Herbie Hancock and Phelnious Monk near La Brea across the street from the Live Nation offices which happens to have the stars of The Supremes, Four Tops and Temptations.
I had the honor of interviewing Thompson a few days before the ceremony.
MC:After 62 years as a Chi-Lite how does it feel to finally receive a walk of fame star?
MT: First of fall I’m honored and excited about it. I never thought we’d get one that’s why. I knew we were far up but didn’t know we’d go all the way to the top [laughs]. That’s why we’re all excited about it.
MC: Last time you were here was for Jackie Wilson’s Walk of Fame star and you were there with Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson and Mary Wilson… How did it feel to see his family receive the award?
MT: It was a very exciting moment. Jackie played with us for many years and to see his family speak for him at the Walk of Fame was a big honor for me. Now you’ll have all the Chi-Lites fans out there.
MC: The Chi-Lites and Jackie were on the same label [Brunswick]
MT: Jackie had always been our idol as a singer and took us on tour for probably three years up and down the highway. Also taking us into the Kiel Auditorium in St Louis, Missouri when we found out we had been singing the B-Side of a record that got turned over and became number 1 in the country. We had quite a few hit records Brunswick and for the Billboard charts we had 37 singles. A Lot of our B-side records could've been A-Side records. We just went in to record with Bruce Swedian day and night and we would come up with some great records.
MC: How would the other found Chi-Lites Squirrel, Red, and Eugene feel about this honor?
MT: They would be very excited for it and for me for keeping the group going this llong (62 years). They [family] are very excited about it and can’t wait to have a ball.
MC: With it being Covid still I’m sure it’ll be a smaller attendance than usual, how much of your family will be there?
MT: Well quite a few will be there, my nieces and nephews, my daughters and songs, they let me have that.
MC: Are there any Chi-Lite shows for 2022
MT: I think what’s going to happen is when Variety Magazine comes out all the promoters around the world will be reaching out for us more. We have our own promoters here in the states that books us anyways, but when that magazine comes out worldlike that I think it’s going to change the game.
MC: Artists including Jay-Z and Beyonce have sampled/re-recorded Chi-Lites songs, do you have a favorite?
MT: There's quite a few of them. The Rolling Stones have a record out there called “Trouble’s A Comin’”. He [Mick Jagger] took it and made it a great song and added it to the tour starting this week. I’m very excited about that right now. They planned it for every tour date and that’s the opening song.
MC: The tour just started last night.
MT: Wow, well they’re playing it onstage.
MC: How long have you known actor Jimmie Walker and radio personality Jeff Foxx [inducting Chi-Lites into Hollywood Walk of Fame] and what is your relationship with them?
MT: Well Jimmy Walker toured with me for 10 years [laughs] and Jeff Foxx is my main guy at Sirius XM radio and we’re getting ready to put him on tour with us as well. We got two giants that know how to perform and act and we’re very excited to have them representing us.
MC: I’ve been to Chess Records in Chicago now known as Willie Dixon’s blue haven which is where Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and Howlin’ Wolf recorded. Did you get to know any of them being from Chicago? Chess started nine years before the Chi-Lites formed, however you were making records the same time as many blues greats in Chicago.
MT: All of them [laughs]. We knew B.B. King. I played drums on a lot of records down at Chess. I was a drummer before I went out singing with the group.
MC: A Decade after the Chi-Lites formed came Earth Wind and Fire also from Chicago. It’s a little known fact Maurice White was a session drummer too.
MT: Maurice White was my drummer when I stopped playing drums. He played with the Chi-Lites. He was a session drummer over there as well [Chess]. He played on a lot of shows with us and he played on some of our earlier records way before we went to Brunswick.
MC: Is there anything else you would like to add about the Walk of Fame or about the Chi-Lites legacy.
MT: I’ll tell you what, It’s a pleasure and an honor to have a star. We feel like we’ve gone all the way to the top. We’re going to take it home from there.We’re going to really promote the star there so people can come and see it as well as we do with our concerts. I think we got another career going for a little while.
MC: How long has it been since the Chi-Lites last performed?
MT: Well, it’s been about a year and half now since before the pandemic came.
MC: The Chi-Lites have influenced 5-6 decades of artists now, are there any artists you’re honored to hear influenced them.
MT: I managed the Jackson 5 back in Chicago. We traveled together. We had been Joe Jackson’s friends and partners for many many years and it’s exciting to have a star with them.
MC: There’s over 2,000 stars now and the Chi-Lites will finally be added.
MT: You better believe it, that’s the exciting part. It’s going to be very interesting.
MC: Since you and the family will be here visiting from Chicago, will you have time to do anything else in Los Angeles?
MT: Right now I’m in the process of moving to Las Vegas. We’re coming for three or four days then the rest of the family goes back to Chicago and I’m going over to Las Vegas to get my new home situated.