Monday, December 25, 2006

I loved James Brown

Merry Christmas!

I loved James Brown

He has just died after many years on the stage. I was lucky enough to be snubbed by him whilst working voluntarily as an Admin. for an International Aids education charity at The Montreux Jazz festival in 1993.

I was in charge, backstage, for making sure all the stars were issued with Red Ribbons and smoothing the way..

He had a large family of musicians who had all agreed to wear the ribbon despite being warned by Mr Brown that any one wearing one would be sacked for doing so!
The group leader said, “Well, he cant sack us all”?
They were all very supportive but Mr Brown had refused to have anything to do with the Shows educational Aids support.

I was in a very tricky situation as my fellow workers wanted to get Brown on-board and wear a ribbon at any cost..

James Brown had just been released from Prison the year before for some drugs offense in America, adding to his kudos and so this was the hottest ticket of the entire show.

The Town was buzzing with the news that he’d turned up. What wasn't generally known was Brown had turned up as expected but had demanded a suitcase full of cash before he'd go onto the stage! Naturally this was a real task for the organizers but I heard he always did this so perhaps they should have been ready.. but still, a real pain to have your star double his appearance fee just before performing!

Well, they managed it, as I was on the top floor of the building outside his dressing room before he came out to go to stage. I met the organizer, the charming and helpful, world famous 'Quincy Jones' who told me he'd tried to get him to don a red ribbon but had been refused point blank and so it was a hopeless cause, but I stood my ground and as Brown's door opened I held up a ribbon as he came towards me.. He wearing this shocking old, shiny red nylon crimp suit, he just put up his hand in a 'NO' gesture and walked by.

I’d failed, but what a magnificent failure! His whole group were onstage wearing the ribbons, and Brown looked like a life size Red Ribbon, as I saw when I’d rushed around into the auditorium to see the show.

It wasn’t a very good show, Brown's performance was a half hearted one, I’d seen videos of his heyday and knew he always did the same things, pretending to be overcome by excess and his old servant putting his cloak onto his shoulders, Brown comming 'to' and returning to sing, he'd normally do this several times in a good show, but this was'nt and so he did one return only. It seemed that Brown was just running through the paces, not bothering to act, he just wanted to get off stage. Dispite this the Swiss and international crowd of rich supporters loved the show and it became the highlight of the season. I believe the band members didn't get the sack after all, just for this, I loved James Brown!

I may add more as and when I can, with Montreux Jazz fest pictures...

Picture above: Myself behind Geneva Art Gallery
London Bus outside Jezz Fest hall, Our Red Ribbon H.Q.


martine said...

This is very interesting to know the backstage story of musicians, mainly when they are as famous as James Brown was... I want to know more !

Miss JJJ said...

Interesting to hear your personal story of the Godfather of Soul! I was amused to hear the news of his traveling funeral over the past week here in the states... it seems his body was taken to Atlanta as well as several other cities: they noted that at each stop he would be dressed in a different outfit ! Gotta love a man who goes for costume changes even after death - -

paulgrand said...

Yes, its true, I've seen those news clips too!
If only his red stage suit were as nice..
If you can picture the fat interior designer guy in the Movie
Beetlejuice where his designer clothes are turned into a horrible,
(was it purple?) tiny, suit. Then this gives some idea of my coming face to face to Mr Brown's ill fitting, cheep red, crimp, nylon attire!
The horror, the horror!

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