I use the term “chops” a little loosely here. When Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing and stripped of his heavyweight title in 1967 after refusing the draft, he began a lecture tour to pay the bills. Ali’s money troubles during this three and a half year blackball may be the reason so many cynical, cynical people assume his participation in the musical, Buck White was a ploy for cash, and not a reflection of his legitimate love of Broadway!
Below, you can see Ali performing the song, “We Came in Chains,” on The Ed Sullivan Show. Buck White is actually a pretty cool concept for a musical; based on Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s play Big Time Buck White, the show centers on its namesake, a militant Black Power leader who invigorates and focuses a group of radical black activists. Unfortunately, it only ran for seven performances, and full footage of Ali’s “musical talent” is near impossible to find.
Maybe if they had hired a lead with a musical background the show would be a classic?