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Monday, December 25, 2006

We'll miss the Godfather

There really was nobody like him, before or since. God rest his soul.

Comments (26)

I did see him live once, at what was then the Lung Fung Dragon Room at 82nd and Division. He was 52 at the time. Surreal. Wonderful.


I was at the Lung Fung show, too. My memory is the sound system blew out shortly after Brown first took the stage and the band stopped playing, but he kept singing and dancing until it was fixed - and I could hear him when it wasn't working, even though I was in the back of the room. Amazing.

Wow, he will be missed. Never really one of my favs, but one seriously talented entertainer for sure. Rest in peace...

BTW, I heard "Lamont" from the The Jeffersons died over the weekend too...

He played two nights at the Lung Fung room on 82nd and I was there the first night. Wow, was that devastating. In a small room the screams were actually frightening, like when a mountain lion roars. I also got to see him several times after that, and it was always ridiculously soulful and eternally fresh.
It's not everyone who creates an entire genre of music but he did. He invented Funk and in that sense he ranks as one of the greatest musical contributors of all time.

Remember the first time you heard "Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)"? He dared us all to deal with that, and we did. When you remember Ali and MLK, there can be only one soundtrack, and it's James.

Another Amen.

One of my favorite James Brown songs is, "I Got the Feelin'". First he chants "Baby, Baby, Baby" by himself, then the band comes back in, and it's one of the coolest moments in musical history.

The compilation "Star Time" has so many of the great moments on it. Some of the spoken raps that were included as introductions on the singles are priceless.

Bobby (Byrd, I assume): "Whatchoo gon' play now?"

James: "Bobby, I don't know. But whatsomever I play -- it's got to be funky."

Bobby: "Yeh."

There's another one that doesn't make the cut for the greatest hits collections, but it's my favorite. To kick off a number called "It's a Brand New Day (So Let a Man Come in)," James informs the band:

"Fellas, things done got too far gone. We got to let the girls know what they got to do for us! It's done got to be a drag, man, a man can't do nothin' no more!"

Granted, he was never much of a diplomat between the sexes, but that brother was funk personified. As he once explained, "I feel so funky, I got to take off my watch and ring." Or "I want to kiss myself."

I've got James going on the box right now. He's sweating -- but I've got goosebumps. "Watch me! I got it... Blow me some 'Trane, brother!"

"You can't tell me how to run my mess."

It was so great, even after the moves were gone...

JB..goodbye..and "keep it on the ones."

Saw him at the Bat Cave in Ashland, Ky. in 1968 with the "Famous Flames".


To the bridge, Godfather....

"Don't be so funky."

"I can't help it, Byrd."

Here's the link to the article in the Music section of the NYTimes. My Mom was really into R&B music and we all listened to WDIA in Memphis from the cradle onwards. His music permeates my youth, from the earliest days. This is really very sad.
RIP Mr. Brown


Was just listening to his "Soul on Top" cd with friends in an impromptu wake. A fantastic recording, done with an orchestra! A stunning version of "A Man's MAn's Man's World".

"James, what we gonna play now?
Bobby, I don't know, but whatever it is, it's got to be FUNKY."

I saw James Brown once after one of his old bandmates had died. I believe it was a drummer he had with him for a long time and he talked directly to him over the microphone saying, "It just don't seem real." This thing is really starting to set in now.

James would often go into some weird tributes to Hendrix in mid-show as well. Spooky.

Soul Brother No. 1 was not an easy guy to love. Just when you'd start to worship him, he'd get all crazed on PCP, beat his wife, and shoot at somebody. Now that his offstage life is largely out of the picture, though, just look at what he created professionally. It's dumbfounding.

I've gone on long James Brown jags in the past, where I'd play his recordings over and over for weeks. It will take me months to process his departure.

I hope the funeral does not become an Al Sharpton-Hillary Clinton sideshow. The guy ought to be lying in state in the Capitol. Certainly the gangsta rapper zillionaires had better show up. They literally owe it all to James.

You don't get to be an Angel of History by letting people walk all over you. If he had to beat up a few women while working to bring the world Funky Drummer, well, that's a price I'm certainly willing to pay. Sure, it's sad for them, but that's nothing compared to the legacy of a great and revolutionary artist. Picasso was no saint either, and just look at his accomplishments! An artist and a hero!

I can't tell if that was sarcastic or not.

James's reputation included some issues with paying his just debts. A great old East Coast side man I used to know told me that when you played with James, you got paid up front -- if you wanted to be sure you'd be paid at all.

Jack, thanks for this post. I saw James Brown a few times when he played Detroit in the late 60's & early 70's. But the last time I saw him was the best:

I was at a conference about 15-years ago at John Asquaga's Nugget hotel in Reno, standing alone in a hallway waiting for the "down" elevator, when he walked up beside me. I was so astounded, all I could stammer was, "Wow! James BROWN!"

He gave me a low-five and said, "Say, brother" as we entered the elevator. We made small talk all the way down to the first floor.

Since then, I've always claimed that I became James Brown's brother in a hotel elevator in Reno.

How cool was that?

Pretty damned cool. But my son rolls his eyes every time I reference that episode, he's heard it so often.

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