That’s the way my friend Laurel described what she felt at 12:42 am on Christmas morning when she sent me an email. James Brown is dead . The song of the same title finally came true today. James Brown died at the age of 73 from complications of pneumonia. What a sad event to take place on Christmas day.
The influence of James Brown on popular music was enormous. James Brown was one of the few musicians that actually defined a whole genre of music. Funk music owes an enormous debt to this man from Georgia. Like the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Dylan, James Brown was a giant in the entertainment industry whose works transcended beyond niche markets to achieve universal recognition worldwide.
I saw James Brown a couple of times, and he was always an amazing performer. I saw him at the Keystone Palo Alto, and the San Jose Saddle Rack, two great nightclubs that no longer exist. This summer, I was actually hired to shoot some video of a big festival in San Francisco that featured James Brown on the second day. Because of prior commitments, I sub-contracted a friend of mine to shoot the day that missed. It turned out to be the last time James Brown played San Francisco.
In my LOUIE LOUIE research, I’ve been trying to find memorabilia connected to the Evergreen Ballroom of Olympia, Washington. This was the place where Richard Berry performed when he toured the Pacific Northwest in 1957 with Etta James, Bobby Bland, and Junior Parker. There’s not a lot of material I could find from this extinct nightclub, but one of the few things I did find was a jpeg of a vintage 1961 Evergreen poster featuring James Brown, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Nat Kendricks, and the Brownies, which you can see in this posting. If you have ANY memorabilia from the Evergreen Ballroom, drop me an email.
Earlier his week, I received an iTunes gift card. Today, I used this gift card to purchase a James Brown Christmas album. With all the stores closed on Christmas Day, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays and the life of James Brown by buying the download of “James Brown’s Funky Christmas.” It’s an excellent addition to my audio library.
In the meantime, here’s a classic James Brown performance, courtesy of YouTube. This is a performance of “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag / I Feel Good” of from the Ed Sullivan Show on May 1, 1966.
SIDE NOTE: Sugar Pie DeSanto, who’s also featured on the Evergreen poster along with James Brown, has had her share of hard times recently. On October 26th, Ms. DeSanto lost her husband, Jesse Davis, and everything she owns in a tragic apartment fire. If you are able to make any donations to help Ms. DeSanto out, that would be a wonderful thing. There will be a benefit concert for her in San Francisco on Friday, January 12.