Let’s start with a trivia question: What do late entertainment icons Selena and “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown have in common?
The answer: Along with their incredible cultural and social impacts, and millions of records sold worldwide, both recording artists had significant music written and produced by Full Force.
Comprised of brothers B-Fine (Brian George), Paul Anthony (George), and Bowlegged Lou (Lucien George, Jr.), and cousins Shy Shy (Hugh Junior Clark), Curt-T-T (Curt Bedeau), and Baby Gee (Gary Charles), this multi-talented, multi-platinum-selling group from Brooklyn, NY have been, well, a force in the recording industry for more than 4 decades.
Noted for their musicianship, crowd-erupting performances, electric personalities, and pioneering mix of hip-hop, pop and R&B, their hit songs “Alice, I Want You Just for Me,” “Unselfish Lover,” “All In My Mind,” “Temporary Love Thing,” and “Ain’t My Type of Hype” showcased the 6 men as top artists in their own right.
Yet, what they accomplished as writers and producers for various acts propelled them to the legendary status they hold today. During a conversation with Bowlegged Lou, he said as much as he enjoyed performing and being on stage, he acknowledged that writing and production gave Full Force their longevity. “If you left it up to me and we just did performing,” Lou began, “our career wouldn’t be as fruitful as it has been.”
Their father, their uncle, and their former co-manager Steve Salem all noticed the group was ripe for success behind the scenes. The three men planted the seed that Full Force should produce other artists. Accepting this suggestion, they sprouted immediately with 1984’s hip-hop classic “Roxanne, Roxanne” for now iconic group UTFO.
For Selena’s smash 1995 album Dreaming Of You, Full Force produced “Missing My Baby.” Released posthumously, Lou remembered completing the record was an emotional experience. “They flew us into Corpus Christi, TX just to finish it,” he said. “I’ll never forget they still had flowers outside the studio for her because it was still fresh when she passed away. Hearing her voice over the speakers was so surreal because she wasn’t there. We finished it, then the family came in to listen to the finished product. Right after the song finished playing her father stood up and started clapping. Then the rest of the family started clapping. I’ll never forget that as long as I live.”
Brown requested to work with Full Force, which was a tremendous honor Lou said. They wrote and produced his entire 1988 album I’m Real which spawned hits “Static” and the title track. He wasn’t the only legend to enlist their talent. “We did a remix for B.B. King and sang the background for him,” Lou said. “It was awesome just to be in his presence.”
Full Force certainly made their production and writing presence felt since ’84. The list of artists they’ve worked with is extensive, Lou said. One of the standouts is Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, recipients of hits “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” “All Cried Out,” “Can You Feel the Beat,” “Go For Yours,” “Lost In Emotion,” and “Head to Toe.” They put music and theater icon Cheryl Pepsii Riley on the map with “Thanks For My Child,” and took actress Jasmine Guy from television to the top of the dance charts with “Try Me.” They also famously and unexpectedly paired UTFO with legendary rock group Anthrax on “Lethal.” That wasn’t their only surprise.
“When Backstreet Boys came out, and Britney Spears, and N’Sync, people were shocked to know Full Force was the fuse behind their music,” Lou said. “We produced LFO. We wrote and produced one of the Backstreet Boys’ biggest hits, ‘All I Have to Give’.”
Rihanna, Bob Dylan, Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Whodini, Samantha Fox, Lil Kim, and Patti LaBelle are just a few others etched on Full Force’s extensive list. Undoubtedly, they have given their all to their craft. “I think we’ve tried our best because people are still knowing us and remembering us,” Lou said. “But they don’t know everything we did. We’ve done songs you might have not heard but were big in other places.”
Full Force has been big in the music industry for 40 years. The artists they’ve worked with may not have reached their places of success without them.
Let’s close with another trivia question. How many hit records is Full Force responsible for? “Well…I mean,” Lou began before pausing momentarily. “There’s a lot. Thirty-five, maybe? Forty? I don’t know.”