America became acquainted with Larry Platt Tuesday night, but the “Pants on the Ground” singer has been an Atlanta fixture for years.
The Atlanta man became an overnight Internet sensation with his “American Idol” song about pulling up your pants. Comments on his performance raced across Twitter even before he stopped singing. A video was quickly downloaded on YouTube, and registered over 50,000 views. Among Google trends this morning, “pants on the ground” and “pants on the ground video” were Nos. 2 and 3 on the most-searched terms (“Teddy Pendergrass” was tops).
Thirteen “Pants on the Ground” fan pages on Facebook already have a total of more than 94,000 followers.
Platt, who turned 63 a couple of months after last year’s Idol audition, calls himself a “four-star general in the civil rights movement.” In fact, he had his feet on the ground in the ’60s, when he took part in the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march.
Platt told the AJC in 2008 that he was shot in the eye as a child and has been attacked by police dogs and suffered beatings in past civil rights efforts.
Platt, who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, talked about his memories during a panel discussion at the Roswell Public Library.
Four years ago, Platt made the news during former Mayor Bill Campbell’s federal corruption trial.
U.S. marshals at the Russell Federal Courthouse in downtown Atlanta confiscated drawings that Platt had done in the courtroom, citing issues of “inappropriateness.”
In his ink-on-paper drawings, Platt depicted Campbell, his defense team, the judge and jurors as winged angels. Prosecution witnesses were shown with horns.
“God lets me see people as they are,” Platt told the AJC at the time.
According to the AJC account of the incident, “after his drawings were taken, an agitated Platt stood in the hallway, shaking and near tears. Witnessing the scene, Campbell placed his hand on Platt’s shoulder and told the marshal, ‘This man marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.’ U.S. District Judge Richard Story told the marshals to return Platt’s drawings.”
In an interview with AccessAtlanta, Platt said that he was inspired to create the song “Pants on the Ground” song three years ago when he saw a guy walking down a downtown Atlanta street with a baby in his arm and his pants slipping below his hips. “He had his underwear showing,” Platt recalled. The song came to him spontaneously. He started chanting the chorus to “Pants on the Ground.”
“He was being disrespectful so I wanted to embarrass him,” Platt said. “He rolled his eyes and pulled his pants up a little bit.”
Platt has since done that to others as well.
He went to the Georgia Dome last June for auditions without realizing he was way out of the age limit of 16 to 28. The producers heard his song and fell in love with him. They probably knew instantly they were going to put him in front of the judges for pure entertainment sake. “I can do things better than a lot of 28 year olds,” he said.
Why did he call himself “General” when he was never in the military? “I’m a general of the civil rights movement,” he said, saying he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and Hosea Williams back in the 1960s. (Williams apparently coined that nickname for him.) According to the AJC’s Eric Sturgis, the AJC checked out his claims in the past and there is photographic evidence of his civil rights past.
I just wanted to share that he comes to Atlanta City Hall occasionally to rant. He’s claimed to have marched with Martin Luther King Jr., which our clips show may be true. He tells the black city council members that they need to show him respect because he helped them get their jobs. He said his brother was shot & killed a year or so ago. He is indeed a character and now the world has got to see him in action
Platt said he likes to talk to government officials about helping the downtrodden, the poor, the homeless. “I like to help keep people from being dominated. This should be a civilized state. Everyone should be treated equal.”
When asked if he had other songs, Platt said he had a female version of “Pants on the Ground,” too. He also said he’s pondering offers to record the song for potential sale.
He concluded the interview with this advice: “Be a man. Don’t be walking around showing yourself to the world! I don’t think that’s right!”