Friday, August 01, 2014

TAMI Show: James Brown gets down

Last week I posted up the trailer for Get On Up, the new James Brown biopic, along with the story of the time in 1964 when the Rolling Stones had to try and follow James Brown on a tv show, the TAMI Show.

The New Yorker's David Rimnick has a fascinating piece up online about that, titled The possessed: James Brown in Eighteen Minutes. 

He describes “Get On Up” as "the second-best film ever made about James Brown." I'd argue it's the third best, after the TAMI Show clip, and the incredible documentary The Night James Brown Saved Boston.

Remnick says "The Stones had come to the States from England determined to play black R. & B. for a mainly white audience that did not know its Son House from its Howlin’ Wolf. They were already stars, and the T.A.M.I. producers had them scheduled to close the show. James Brown did not approve. “Nobody follows James Brown!” he kept telling the show’s director, Steve Binder.

"Mick Jagger himself was hesitant. He and Keith Richards were boys from Kent with an unusual obsession with American blues. They knew what Brown could do. In Santa Monica, they watched him from the wings, just twenty feet away, and, as they did, they grew sick with anxiety."

Jagger said recently that's not how it unfolded. He told WSJ "In the film's not entirely faithful version of events at the T.A.M.I. (Teenage Awards Music International) Show in Santa Monica, Calif, a 21-year-old Mr. Jagger (played by Nick Eversman in a nonspeaking part) and his band mates watch Brown's act (performed by actor Chadwick Boseman ) from the wings. "Never happened," says a grinning Mr. Jagger, who was backstage and didn't see Brown's performance that night. "Artistic license." Ah well.

Remnick: "Brown ... was genuinely incensed that the producers would put him on before pallid amateurs (in his mind) like the Stones. His performance, he later admitted, was a cutting contest that he refused to lose.

"As Brown puts it in his memoir, “James Brown: The Godfather of Soul,” “We did a bunch of songs, nonstop, like always. . . . I don’t think I ever danced so hard in my life, and I don’t think they’d ever seen a man move that fast.” It was a four-song set: the staccato blues number “Out of Sight”; an astonishing inside-out revival of “Prisoner of Love,” which had been recorded by smoothies like Billy Eckstine and Perry Como; the dramatic centerpiece “Please, Please, Please”; and the closer, “Night Train,” which the boxer Sonny Liston would play to get himself going in the gym."

"Richards would eventually say that the very idea of following James Brown was the biggest mistake of the Stones’ careers. “Just go out there and do your best,” Marvin Gaye had told Jagger. And he did. Jagger was never anything but admiring and respectful of James Brown—and he is one of the producers of “Get On Up.”

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