YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

`We lost a good one, man'

December 30, 2006|Ann Powers

SINCE the world got word that James Brown had passed at age 73 on Christmas Day, tributes have been dropping fast and furious, like the beats in one of his funky classics. Thousands gathered at Harlem's Apollo Theater on Thursday, to weep and dance at his first public viewing; another was scheduled for today in his hometown of Augusta, Ga. The outpouring is only right for this titan of American popular music -- anyone who ever saw him shout and strut through an epic performance knows he couldn't be contained. In that spirit, we asked some notable friends, colleagues and fans to offer their toast to Brown's immortal flame.


Ann Powers


Ike Turner

Rhythm and blues founder

We lost a good one, man. I knew the guy all my whole life. We were good friends. We got closer as we got older too. When we were young we used to be battling on the stage. They would have Ike and Tina on the back of one truck and James on another truck. They backed the two trucks up and we'd do one song and then he'd do a song. It went back and forth like that.

James, he was a real nice guy. There were people who thought he was strict, too strict. He made his band stay dressed on the bus, during their rides. It made a good impression, though. He cared about what people felt about him and the things they said. He cared about the way he handled his thing. He didn't want any of his guys looking like a slouch. Later on, those guys came back and they said to him, 'Thank you, man, I learned a lot from you, I got a lot and I didn't even know then that I was learning.' And that's how it is. We lost a good one.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday January 04, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
James Brown: A remembrance of James Brown in Saturday's Calendar misidentified the singer's former booking agent Clint Brantley as Clint Bradley.


Producer and member, Black Eyed Peas

We were in London and I met him and I told him we should do a song together, and he said he'd think about it. The next thing, not only did he call, he showed up at the studio. He told me, "Something told me to work with the Black Eyed Peas. I don't usually work with people. I don't because I don't have to. But something told me to work with the Black Eyed Peas."

So we set everything up and got to work. He asked me, "Do you want to do this thing your way or the way we used to do it?" I said, "Um, I want to do it the way you do, Mr. Brown." "All right then, we're just going to do it."

We got to it and jammed for a while ... later, he said, "OK, do what you going to do," and he left to get something to eat. He came back after a while and listened in and he really liked it. "From now on, I'm gonna call you Baby Brown." That was amazing ....

Later, he told me, "You got a good thing going, the positive message of the Black Eyed Peas, good messages, the world needs life


Steve Harvey

Comedian, actor, radio show host

I'll always remember one time while in Augusta, Ga., performing at a comedy club, I saw James Brown sitting in the hotel restaurant. We started talking; he knew me from my appearances at the Apollo. As we talked, I told him how my parents would feel if they knew I was sitting here talking to you, Mr. Brown! He said, "Get them on the phone." JB sat there and talked to my mother and father like they were old friends. My parents talked about those moments with JB until they passed a few years later. I was later able to thank him several times; as a matter of fact, every time I saw him I thanked him for doing it. And every time he acted like he was supposed to do it. But having a mere taste of the fame he had, I can tell you what he did was big. Thank you, Mr. Brown, for letting me see that with my own eyes. In my book, you were, are, and will always be the Godfather of Soul.


Charles Connor

Original drummer, Little Richard and the Upsetters

During 1953-1955, James Brown and Little Richard had the same booking agent, Clint Bradley. Bradley would send Richard and James out on weekend gigs. We'd play the Douglas Theater in Macon, Ga. During the weekdays, when we weren't playing, James would start dancing in front of the theater, stopping traffic.

We'd go to the ladies' beauty shop to get our hair pressed and curled. James would be talking and singing in the beauty parlor, entertaining customers as well as the employees. They had never seen men getting their hair curled and pressed, especially in Macon, Ga.

James was my friend for 53 years. In 1990, he told Rolling Stone magazine that I was the first to put the funk into the rhythm. He was a giant among men and will be greatly missed.


Robert Christgau

Rock critic

In 1980 I set myself the task of reviewing every James Brown album of the '70s -- 23 by my count, many borrowed from my neighbor Vince Aletti, who'd had the sense to keep even the soundtracks. To add verisimilitude, I worked in order of release, playing each record until it sunk in, then proceeding to the next. Ten titles I judged good-to-great, but though I home-taped like there was no tomorrow, many of these I never played again.

Los Angeles Times Articles