Sex Machine, Super Bad, Soul Power, Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing and There Was A Time, James Brown, Maceo, Fred Wesley, Bootsy Collins, Catfish Collins, Jabo Starks,


How I Became Aware Of James Brown

My awareness of James Brown came as a young child, and it was quite accidental. I must have been about seven or eight when my mother let me go to the movies alone while she went shopping. She took me to the Valencia Theater in Jamaica, New York, and gave the usher a few dollars to keep an eye on me. She would be waiting for me outside when the movie was over (I wouldn't think of doing that today!). I don't remember what movie I saw, but I remember getting up to leave after the cartoons were over. I noticed that the lights did not come on, and the screen lit up, so I sat back down to watch. It was a short of James Brown performing "Please, Please, Please". I was surprised because it was totally unexpected. At that time, I had heard some music by James Brown but never paid any attention to it. I had seen many groups perform music on TV shows like American Bandstand and Ed Sullivan, (this was before there was "Soul Train") but I was not prepared for James Brown! I had never seen anything like it in my young life!



The performance is a classic legend! James was clutching the mic, sweat pouring off his face, begging "Please, Please, Please". Pleading from deep inside his soul, he drops to his knees exhausted. A band member would come and put a cape over his shoulders and is helped off stage. He throws off the cape and runs back to the mic pleading "Please, Please, Please" all over again. That movie short changed my life forever. I realized that an artists live performance added a great new dimension to music that I heard. I've gone to about 50 concerts, and just a few have come close to the excitement created by James Brown . I became a fan from that moment on.



My cousin Sharon was also a fan and would always get the latest 45's, so I heard his jams as soon as they were released. We jammed to "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag", "Ain't That A Groove", "Cold Sweat", "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World", "Licking Stick", "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose", "Mother Popcorn", Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing", "Sex Machine", "Super Bad", "Soul Power", "Escape-Ism", "Hot Pants", "Make It Funky", "I Got Ants In My Pants", " Stone To The Bone", "The Payback", "Papa Don't Take No Mess", and "Funky President", just to name a few. Besides creating some funky grooves, James could DANCE!!! James had moves the had never been seen on this planet! Many have tried over the years to dance like him but never came close. His dancing has inspired other artists such as Michael Jackson and Prince / O(+>, but they never had the innovation that James had.



To us, he was a local hero and role model because he lived nearby on Linden Blvd. in St. Albans, NY. The house had once belonged from Bart Williams, a trumpet player with Duke Ellington. James painted the house black and had a small moat around it. On ocassion, he would open up the house to neighborhood kids, giving away records and encouraging them to stay in school. James knew the importance of education because he never had a formal education. Some of his time off stage was spent talking to black youths trying to get them to set goals and attain their dreams. He never downplayed his past and used it as an example of what one could achieve. He gave some young blacks college scholarships to prove this point.



I also admired James as a businessman. James had owned a Lear jet at a time when it was unusual even for a white man. He owned five radio stations and a restaurant chain. He was also the first recording artist that had his picture on his records. He attained success that was envied even by whites. Even though he would later have financial problems with his business ventures, I admired his business achievements. I had suspected that failures were due in part to his becoming a powerful black man in America. I later found out that his radio stations failed in part due the inability to get national advertising accounts, which should not have been a problem if they were white owned. His claims of harassment by the IRS over the years were given some credence in 1975 when it was disclosed that they spied on him from 1969 to 1973 for his "extremist views and philosophies". James Brown will always be one of the people that I admire the most for using his success to help his community.


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