Music from the heart

Rudy Love will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame on Saturday.

03/04/2011 1:30 AM

03/04/2011 1:30 AM

Three days before his induction into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, Rudy Love was rehearsing in an east Wichita basement with his latest band, Much Love. The group is new and sounded "nervous" — at least to Love's practiced ear.

"Don't go up or down," he told the drummer, "but smack it hard."

He ran through the ending to another song twice, to make sure everybody had it down.

"OK, that's good," he said, moving on to the next number.

If anybody can whip a band into shape quickly, it's the 62-year-old Love, who went from heading a sibling group, the Love Family, to serving as bandleader for R&B great Sly Stone.

On Saturday, Love will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame along with Wichita guitarist Pat McJimsey, who died in 2004, jazz greats Count Basie and Charlie Parker and seven other groups and musicians.

McJimsey's widow, Barb Pierce, said her husband would have liked the idea of going into the Hall of Fame with Love, with whom he often played.

"I'm sure he would be shocked, thinking he wouldn't be deserving of it, although everybody else does," Pierce said of the honor for her husband. "He probably would compliment all the people he's played with."

Love and six other inductees will perform at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, where the induction program will take place.

"I think they just got tired of me," Love joked during a break in his band's practice. "They said 'He won't ever quit unless we give him something.' "

Love's sister Peggy, who was sitting nearby, probably gives a more accurate account of her brother's feelings when she called the induction "incredible. What an honor, what a privilege."

As Love tells it, his career as a singer, songwriter and musician was set by his father, gospel singer Robert Love, who fathered a large family that became well known for music, sports and food. Rudy was the oldest of 17 children.

"I never had a chance, a choice — Daddy started us singing before we could talk," he said.

Not that Love ever really wanted to do anything else.

"Rudy Love and the Love Family, we had so many good things," he said. Love and his family recorded albums and, though they never became household names themselves, they opened for many people who were.

"That was exciting, to have my family be like what we always dreamed up as kids," Love said.

Then there was the decade he spent with Sly Stone, one of whose songs, "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," he'll perform in Lawrence.

"When I first saw Sly and the Family Stone, I didn't want to be like them, I wanted to be him," Love said.

Love has performed in Las Vegas and Hong Kong, L.A. and New York — and quite a few less glamorous places. Perhaps not surprisingly, his own children are all involved in the music business in one form or another.

Whatever style of music is popular at the time, Love said his approach has always been that "music from the heart reaches the heart. If I can feel it, they can feel it."

And although being inducted into the Hall of Fame undeniably stamps him as a kind of elder statesman, Love has no plans to give up performing. The band Much Love has several gigs in the Wichita area scheduled in upcoming weeks. Joining him will be Apryl Mueller on vocals, Blake Coleman on drums, Gene "Flip" Brown on bass and Phil Bollig on guitar. Peggy and two more sisters, Shirley and Dennise, also contribute vocals.

Love won't deny that there have been ups and downs during his career, as when he discovered that some of his albums were being sold in Europe under somebody else's name (with the proceeds going into somebody else's pocket).

But mostly it's been "wonderful," he said. "I would have paid to be me. I would have paid to be Rudy Love."

If you go

rudy love

What: The Wichita musician will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame

Where: Liberty Hall, Lawrence

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

How much: Tickets $40. For more information, go to ksmusichalloffame.org

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