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Civil rights veteran becomes Internet sensation
By ERRIN HAINES ? Associated Press Writer ? January 15, 2009
ATLANTA (AP) -- Pants. On. The. Ground.
With those four words, "General" Larry Platt has gone from
"American Idol" reject to Internet sensation.
The 63-year-old civil rights veteran performed his original
hit at an audition for the show's ninth season, winning over
judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi -- and earning a nervous
endorsement from incurable skeptic Simon Cowell.
"I have a horrible feeling that song could be a hit," Cowell
Platt's fan base exploded after the show Wednesday night, as
his audition hit YouTube and Twitter. Within hours, he had been
clicked and tweeted into one of the Internet's most popular
On Thursday at his home in East Atlanta, the e-celebrity
seemed dazed by the attention.
His show-stealing performance came at the end of the popular
show that featured auditions from Atlanta taped on Aug. 17.
The spotlight on him, Contestant 103519 began singing --
rapping? -- the now infamous verse: "Pants on the ground! Pants
on the ground! Looking like a fool with your pants on the
Within moments of chanting the chorus, singer and guest
judge Mary J. Blige sank into her chair and howled with
laughter, tears filling her eyes. Jackson bobbed his head and
smiled. And just as a scowl-faced Cowell tried to wrap up the
performance, Platt dropped to the ground in a split.
For Platt, the song was just another one of his causes. He
said Thursday that he and his civil rights colleagues
sacrificed too much for today's youth to walk around with
Platt -- his black jeans securely fastened -- proudly showed
off black and white photographs of himself alongside civil
rights icons Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Congressman John
Lewis, and pointed to plaques from city and state officials
recognizing his social justice work as a dedicated foot soldier
with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Platt, who worked to elect President Barack Obama, is still
an activist, and can frequently be seen in downtown Atlanta
holding signs protesting foreclosures, war, violence, racism
and "any wicked things that take place."
After seeing a young father with his jeans below his waist,
Platt said he was inspired to write "Pants On The Ground," and
hopes his message of personal responsibility doesn't get lost
in his popularity.
Bolstered by his newfound fame, Platt doesn't plan to stop
singing his "Idol" anthem anytime soon.
Shaking his head at the end of the song, Cowell delivered
the news that Platt was about three decades too old for the
But, he offered: "I don't think this is gonna be the last we
hear about you. I have a feeling about you, Larry."
BRUTUS BUCKEYE WILL TAKE YOU DOWN...
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