Actor/comedian/proto M.C. Rudy Ray Moore has passed away at the age of 81 from diabetes-related complications. From the LA Times’ Joycelyn Brown :
Though he was little known to mainstream audiences, Moore had a significant effect on comedians and hip-hop artists.
“People think of black comedy and think of Eddie Murphy,” rap artist Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew told the Miami Herald in 1997. “They don’t realize [Moore] was the first, the biggest underground comedian of them all. I listened to him and patterned myself after him.”
And in the liner notes to the 2006 release of the soundtrack to Moore’s 1975 motion picture “Dolemite,” hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg said:
“Without Rudy Ray Moore, there would be no Snoop Dogg, and that’s for real.”
When it came to his own sense of his accomplishments, Moore was never burdened by immodesty.
“These guys Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac claim they’re the Kings of Comedy,” Moore told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2003. “They may be funny, but they ain’t no kings. That title is reserved for Rudy Ray Moore and Redd Foxx.”
The heyday of his fame was in the 1970s, with the release of “Dolemite” followed by “The Human Tornado,” “Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son-in-Law” and “Money Hustler.”
The way Moore told it, his introduction to Dolemite came from an old wino named Rico, who frequented a record shop Moore managed in Los Angeles. Rico told foul-mouthed stories about Dolemite, a tough-talking, super-bad brother, whose exploits had customers at the record shop falling down with laughter.
One day Moore recorded Rico telling his stories. Later Moore assumed the role of Dolemite, a character who became the cornerstone of his decades-long career as a raunchy comedian, filmmaker and blues singer.
“What you call dirty words,” he often said, “I call ghetto expression.”