MONROE – He’s traveled across the country. He’s starred in movies. He’s been singing for more than half a century. And he’s coming to Union County this weekend.
Known as “The Golden Platter,” former Platters member Milton Bullock will take the stage in a concert to benefit the Unionville Lions Club. The concert, “Back Down Memory Lane,” takes place Saturday, Aug. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Benton’s Crossroads Baptist Church’s family life center, located at 109 E. Lawyers Road in Monroe.
“Back Down Memory Lane” also features Mary “Bubbling Brown Sugar” Tate, one of the original Motown singers. Together, Bullock and Tate will take audience members back in time with music from the 1950s and 60s.
Bullock’s first encounter with a Lions Club occurred in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd devastated his hometown of Princeville. Members of an out-of-town Lions Club were instrumental in helping his friends and neighbors rise above the destruction the hurricane caused. “It was the Lions Club that was the first to come and help my hometown get back on its feet,” Bullock said.
Since then, Bullock has established a Lions Club in Princeville and currently serves as the club’s president. He also travels to many different towns, performing to support their Lions Clubs.
Rachel Walker, president of the Unionville Lions Club, heard Bullock perform about two years ago at a Lions Club event in the Outer Banks. At a Lions Club auction in Raleigh this spring, Walker and her husband bid on and won a Milton Bullock concert, which they used for their 50th anniversary celebration.
Walker got to know Bullock personally and learned more about his Lions Club fundraising efforts. One thing led to another, and with the help of several local sponsors – including Union Power Cooperative and the Union County Community Arts Council – Walker booked Bullock to perform for the Unionville Lions Club.
“I’m really excited about the concert,” Walker said. “I think that it’s wonderful that he’s willing to use his ‘celebrity’ to help raise money for our club.”
Bullock was first discovered on a whim when he was visiting his uncle in Brooklyn, N.Y. Then a teenager, Bullock would often sing to himself as he worked outside. One day, a woman passing by stopped and told Bullock she’d been listening to him sing for three days and asked him if he’d ever considered singing professionally. The woman knew the publisher of the group The Platters in Manhattan and connected Bullock with the group.
Bullock subsequently joined The Platters and performed as the group’s first tenor from 1965 to 1971. During that time, the group released a number of worldwide hit singles, such as “Only You,” “The Great Pretender,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and “Sweet, Sweet Lovin’.”
Following his departure from the group, Bullock branched out into film work, playing roles in motion pictures like “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” “Straight Talk” with Dolly Parton and the underground boxing movie “Gladiator.”
Bullock also began charity work and established the Do It For the Kids Foundation, which promotes the welfare of America’s youth.
Do It For the Kids is collaborating with the Lions Club to raise money to purchase a camera that uses newly discovered technology that can detect dormant eye issues in children as early as six months that may cause vision problems after age 8.
With this new technology, these conditions can be detected before they start surfacing, allowing families and doctors to take steps to prevent, avoid or alleviate serious problems. The cameras cost about $10,000 each, which is why successful and frequent fundraising is critical. “There are eye issues that are overlooked because (doctors) are still using the old method of covering one eye,” Bullock said. “We’re trying to get this camera in every district in the country. The services don’t cost the parent or kid one dime, only time. That’s what propels me and drives me beyond my imagination. It’s critical that our kids see.”
Which is why Bullock continues to travel, performing for Lions Clubs every chance he gets. “That’s how I want to be remembered,” he said. “I want to do something for kids here in America first, and then in the world. That’s what drives me more than anything else, so when God calls my name he will say ‘job well done.’”
Want to go?
Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, with free admission for children under 12. Fans can bring their old Platters albums to be autographed, and CDs will be available for purchase. For tickets and more information, contact Rachel Walker at 704-289-1752, Dale Austin at 704-282-9173 or Betty Hinson at 704-574-2287.