Who was/is Toussaint McCall ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Toussaint McCall

Nothing Takes The Place Of You

Toussaint McCall

Nothing Takes The Place Of You


Trifles such as producers and recording studios weren't prerequisites for Toussaint McCall. He cut his spine-chilling self-penned soul ballad Nothing Takes The Place Of You in his Monroe, Louisiana home with no outside help apart from drummer Jimmy Williams, ending up with a #5 R&B smash that rose to #52 pop.


Born March 26, 1939 in Delhi, Louisiana (40 miles east of Monroe), McCall got started early. "My father was a minister, and my mother was very enthusiastic about having everybody learn something musically,"  he says. "My sisters played, and when they graduated, they needed somebody else to play. So I was the first one to say, 'I can do that!'" McCall learned piano and organ, studying music at Southern University at Baton Rouge, then taught elementary school while spending his off-hours gigging in Monroe. "It wasn't moonlighting, because that was the way I was gonna go anyway," he says.Jimmy Smith was Toussaint's main man on organ; his vocal favorites were Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. Nothing Takes The Place Of You owed zero to any of them.

"Songs like that, you know, you're singing about somebody and some things, and probably more than one somebody. And it's that one time or that one week or that one night that strikes your heart. You're thinking about it, and the words just come, and the music just comes," says McCall. "I built a large room off of my bedroom, a playpen, so to speak. And I went to the electronics store and bought all of the equipment and stuff. Hooked it up and set it up, and did it at the house." He simultaneously played piano and organ as he sang. "Everything went in at once," Toussaint says. "I played bass on the organ, with the pedal."

Instead of pitching record labels with the master, McCall headed for KOKA radio in Shreveport. "When they played it, it became such an instant success, Stan Lewis became interested in it,"  he says.Lewis, who operated the Jewel, Paula, and Ronn labels and a successful one-stop in Shreveport, received a call from one of the clerks at his record store. "I said, 'Betty, do you need me?' She said, 'Yes, sir. Do you know anything about a record called 'Nothing Takes The Place Of You?''"  recalls Lewis. "I said, 'Why?' She said, 'The phone is ringing off the wall! Everybody wants the record!'"  Through deejay B.B. Davis, Lewis tracked Toussaint down. "I jumped in the car, took my checkbook, took a songwriter's contract, and I went and caught him."

Nothing Takes The Place Of You was the third release on Stan's Ronn logo, later covered by William Bell, Brook Benton, and Isaac Hayes. McCall did his recording after that in Shreveport and Muscle Shoals studios. His encore I'll Do It For You was a decent-sized hit, but his later Ronn offerings didn't hit. McCall memorably cameoed in John Waters' 1988 film musical 'Hairspray,' lip-synching his homemade classic.


- Bill Dahl -

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