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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A memory of James Brown (May 3rd 1933 - December 25th 2006)

The music business lost its hardest working member yesterday.  It seems James Brown, the 'Godfather of Soul', has finally taken a break after a lifetime of hard work and legendary performances.

The following story about James Brown came to me third hand via a guitar player I know:

We were playing the Jerry Lewis telethon one year in the 70's and James and his band were supposed to go on at some specific time, let's say 3:00.  All the bands were asked to arrive an hour early to be sure they were directed to the proper stage, set-up, sound-checked, etc. 

Well, by 2:00, no James, no band.  2:15...2:30...nothing.

Suddenly, at around 2:45, two extremely dirty, noisy and rusting old automobiles that looked like they came from a 1940's movie came screeching into the studio parking lot.  Out from the cloud of dust emerged six very messy looking people who appeared to have driven all night and day and slept in their raggedy clothes (which, in fact, they had).  Five of the six grabbed their instruments - guitar, bass and amps (not even in cases), drums and horns, and with a cool air mixing indifference and joy, they sachet their way into the building.  The sixth one was James, strutting behind them.

No time for a sound check, no time to even tune up.  The guitarist and bassist plopped down their amps, sharing some joke between them.  The horn players found some stage microphones.  The drummer slapped his rickety hardware together in about 5 minutes, leaving about 60 seconds until airtime.  We (The house band for the telethon) were watching the scene, wondering what the hell this unkempt and exhausted gang would do next.

We didn't have long to wonder as we were instantly blown away by the baddest, funkiest, kick-ass groove we had ever witnessed.  We just stared... all our jaws dropped.  James and his band drove through their set with passion and perfection, nailing every note, every punch, every hit, and reminding everyone why they were the best R&B backline on the planet.

15 loud and proud minutes later, the show was over.  The six of them picked up their pawn-shop-looking gear and dragged themselves back to the waiting cars, muttering something about getting to Virginia by 8:00. 

The guitar player from the telethon band (from who this story was passed) said there was a large pool of sweat on the floor and a stench that lasted the rest of the day... but also a memory of seeing the type of music and attitude born of pain and gospel truth that creates legends.

Rest well JB... you've earned the break.


Posted by David Bogner on December 26, 2006 | Permalink


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"JAMES BROWN is a concept, a vibration, a dance ... It's not me, the man. JAMES BROWN is a freedom I created for humanity." ... Anyone who works in public knows what he's talking about. ... "I would like to pass on the want to do somethi... [Read More]

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In loving memory:
Keep the soul alive, tell your friends!

Posted by: Tyca | Dec 26, 2006 12:14:28 PM

He was something else, wasn't he?! A powerhouse of energy that could blow everyone away...and a character to boot.

I once blogged about what I did in my yichud room after the chupah -- I started dancing and singing at the top of my lungs James Brown's "I Feel Good!"

Posted by: Pearl | Dec 26, 2006 3:46:27 PM

We saw James Brown perform at Forsyth Park in Savannah the weekend of the Mistress of Sarcasm's college graduation. I'm glad we had a chance to hear the Godfather himself while he still walked the planet...

Posted by: Elisson | Dec 26, 2006 3:47:25 PM

Don't yet your kids read this. They'll argue that sloppiness is a sign of greatness and never clean up their rooms...


Posted by: Fred | Dec 26, 2006 5:53:36 PM

RIP indeed.

And on a more base note, I guess all those toilet fetish secrets will go with him to the grave.

Posted by: PP | Dec 27, 2006 12:26:51 AM

Unfortunately, I haven't heard much of his music... but sounds like he was quite a character. RIP.

Posted by: Irina | Dec 27, 2006 7:21:41 AM

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