It’s hard to believe that JOE “PEP” HARRIS—the commanding soul man of the groundbreaking classic, “Smiling Faces Sometimes”—tends to be modest about his vocal skills. After all, this Detroit native and Motown vet was handpicked by genius hit-maker NORMAN WHITFIELD (Marvin Gaye, Temptations, Rose Royce, etc) to front the supergroup The UNDISPUTED TRUTH with two sweet soul sirens, Billie Calvin and Brenda “BJ” Evans, (formerly of The Delicates).
Wearing a love for contemporaries like Fifth Dimension and Sly Stone on their sleeves, The Undisputed Truth played sold out shows and went on to record some of the most adventurous, passionate, and indubitably FONKIFIED albums of the 70s—from Face To Face With The Truth, to Cosmic Truth, to Smokin’. These eclectic-yet -infectious LPs feature mammoth musicians like Wah Wah Watson, Eddie Hazel, and Herschel Happiness (Graham Central Station). Through it all, Joe has been the mainstay, sharing the mic with singers like Taka Boom (sister to Chaka Khan), Marcy Thomas, and Belita Woods.
In this edutaining interview, Mr. Harris honors us with tales of winning over crowds at the Apollo with his first group The Fabulous Peps, touring with The Jackson Five, collaborating with Whitfield, and producing music for film and television with George Clinton. Joe also raps about fronting an early incarnation of The Ohio Players, life as a cancer survivor, reuniting with B.J. Evans for the current incarnation of UT, and why he always felt like he was chasing Jackie Wilson.