The biggest single of Joe’s career so nearly didn’t happen. The song was offered to King Floyd who turned it down and no-one showed much enthusiasm for it until Buddy Killen produced a short, snappy edit. Even then it was tucked away on the B side of Mother’s prayer. DJ’s turned it over however and in January 1972 I gotcha exploded on the charts. Making its impact in the first few seconds the groove didn’t quit till it was No.1 R&B and No.2 Pop.
Dismissed at the time by many as a silly novelty the track is now lauded as a huge influence on the development of hip hop. The explosive vocal/percussion interludes predate rap as clearly as any record of the era. Joe’s vocal style switched into a new high energy gear – raw, unpolished, aggressive and exuberant at the same time. Against all odds Joe had a new sound for the new decade.
This time around Joe even gained a hit album on the pop charts. Although it was repetitive by Joe’s standards, with a batch of I gotcha sound-alikes, the title track was strong enough to pull the album up to No.17 Pop. The collection had much else to recommend it with the marvellous tale of Joe’s aching Bad feet, and killer ballads Takin’ a chance and It ain’t gonna work baby amongst the hunks of funk.
Joe’s back catalogue was also paying dividends as rising C&W star Barbara Mandrell rode Show me to No.11 in the country charts. A few months later I gotcha was back in the Top 20 albums as part of the soundtrack to Liza Minnelli’s Liza with a Z TV special.
A quick follow up was in order; You said a bad word was clearly I gotcha part 2 but its bundle of energy and lascivious story line took it to No.12 R&B, No.41 Pop.
Joe returned to
Seeing what they had missed,
Joe could not or did not wish to maintain the momentum started by I gotcha. Scoring his biggest ever hit did not sway him from his conviction that he should be doing more to promote the Nation of Islam. His songs from this period are a curious mixture of comic raunchiness and apocalyptic warnings on the state of the world. In 1972 he vented his frustration in songs such as Living in the last days, Mother’s prayer, Shame and most tellingly, I’ve seen enough – his last recording for three years.
By the time the next album Joe Tex spills the beans, came out in late 1972 Joe’s career was off the boil again but now he wanted it that way. The album contained pre I gotcha tracks such as Papa’s dream and King Thaddeus alongside new songs. Still there was plenty for the
In October 1972, Joe announced he was quitting the music business and devoting himself to Muslim work full time. Joe explained his thinking to writer Joe McEwan in 1977:
"When I accepted Islam, I wanted to do something to show my appreciation for what he (the Honourable Elijah Muhammed) had done for me spiritually. I tried to meet him through the '60s, and it was not until '72 that I was able to meet him in person. I had heard that he asked some entertainers to help him spread the word and they turned him down.
"When I finally met the Messenger, I asked him what he wanted me to do. 'I Gotcha' was getting hot, and I offered to raise some funds. He said, 'No brother. If you want to help me, will you help me the way I want you to?' I said I would. He said, 'Let the band go. Our people are so full of music, that's all we've been doing. Let that go for a minute and go and preach. Go and tell the people what you got out of it.' I gave my band a month's notice and left to go off on a speaking tour. I asked Mr. Muhammad how long he wanted me to stay out there and he told me, 'When you desire to go back in the business, Allah will put you back to where you were. It will look as if you've never been gone.' That's what he told me in '72”.
Joe took the name Yusuf Hazziez, and undertook preaching and fundraising tours as Minister Joseph X. Harrington. He now had a ranch in
Jet magazine, 1973
Having divorced Johnny Mae primarily due to his Muslim convictions and commitments, in January 1973 he married Leah X. Miller in a Muslim ceremony in