BY: Errin Haines
ATLANTA – 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 reluctantly predicted.
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 topics.
Yesterday 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 ground!”
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 yesterday that he and his civil rights colleagues sacrificed too much for today’s youth to walk around with sagging pants.
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 show.
But, he offered: “I don’t think this is gonna be the last we hear about you. I have a feeling about you, Larry.”
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