Bar-Kays lead singer Larry Dodson opens up about why he’s retiring after years with the R&B and funk band

MEMPHIS, Tenn-- Whether in front of thousands of fans at the historic Wattstax concert in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972 or more recently in a more intimate setting at the Rock 'n Soul Museum in downtown Memphis greeting international fans,

Bar-Kays lead singer Larry Dodson has always known how to own a stage and own a room electrifying fans of the legendary R&B and funk band.

"I'm from France. Nice to meet you," music fan from France said.

"I can't thank you for all you have done. You've given us so much music to fill our souls. Oh my gosh, " music fan from Oregon said.

Throughout the years, the charismatic and iconic Larry Dodson was known for his voice, his funky costumes and, of course, his swagger on stage, but last month he shocked many fans when he said would be retiring this year and his last Memphis concert would be in June at the Cannon Center.

"This will be my last performance as the lead singer of the Bar-Kays, with my special band, the Bar-Kays, not the end of the Bar-Kays, the band plays on," Dodson said.

After 47 years, dozens of gold and platinum albums and hit singles, Dodson told WREG what was behind his decision.

"Let me dispel any rumors that anything is wrong. I'm in great health. In fact, I just had my annual physical. I am in good health. The band and I are great and James and I are more joined to hip than ever before," Dodson said.

The James he's speaking of is Bar-Kays' founder and bass player James Alexander.

"Larry Dodson is one of my best friends. He is one of the premier lead singers of all time. His retirement, of course, for me is bittersweet. We've been on stage with each other for 47 years through the ups and downs and everything. He's a great guy," Alexander said.

Dodson says he wanted to spend more time with his wife, Marie, his son, Larry Junior and his family and Dodson's daughter, Precious.
She has Down Syndrome.

"For those who know me, my daughter is Down Syndrome and these are very special years for me as a family guy. These are special years. My daughter is 45 years old we are very blessed," Dodson said.

He's also written a new tell all book about his life called "And the Band Plays On."

"It's my life's journey from the very beginning all the way through the good, bad, the ugly. It's a juicy book. It's juicy, juicy, juicy. It's the truth and it's a tell all," Dodson said.

As for the Bar-Kays, Dodson and Alexander say the group is not breaking up and they are conducting a worldwide search for a new lead singer.

"The Bar-Kays are not going anywhere. In fact, we are going to keep doing what we do and Larry Dodson will be participating in the process of finding a new lead singer. I can tell these guys who are applying for this gig, they got some big shoes to follow," Alexander said.

For now, a sign inside the Rock n' Soul Museum says it all about the group's lead singer: "We Love You Larry."

"This is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Thank you for all that you've done and all that you do," music fan from Oregon said.

For Larry Dodson the curtain will rise one last time as he prepares for a funky final bow and as the Bar-Kays begin a new chapter in their musical journey.

"We are going to play every song we know," Alexander said.

"As I said before, it's my last concert here with the band not the end for the Bar-Kays just for me on stage. I hope I don't get too teary eyed, but before we do we're gonna funk this city up, " Dodson said.

You can catch Larry Dodson's final Memphis performance with the Bar-Kays Saturday, June 16 at the Cannon Center in downtown Memphis.