Were Stones rolled by James Brown?

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Updated: 19 Jan 2019.

 

When James Brown rolled the Rolling Stones – plus the first funk record

Watching HBO’s new documentary on James Brown debunked one old myth that’s been around for years, amongst many other things, and also enlightened me on the first funk record.
According to legend, the Rolling Stones were blown off stage after being forced to follow James Brown’s electrifying performance during the filming of the T.A.M.I. Show in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, in 1964.
Three young Stones (Brian, Keith and Mick) chat to James Brown backstage at the T.A.M.I. Show in 1964. Jan and Dean were the compares.

 

T.A. supposedly stood for Teenage America. I don’t think it was ever actually established what M.I. meant.

The myth goes that the 31-year-old Brown, upset at playing second-fiddle to the headlining Stones, stormed off set resolving to show the young English upstarts a thing or two. On the night of the performance, JB pulled out all the stops to produce mesmerising dance routines and a performance of raw power to put Mick Jagger, firmly in his place. You only have to watch Brown swivelling across the stage of the ball of one foot to know he had no equal on the dance floor except Master Juba in the 1840s. If you think Michael Jackson could dance, take a look at James Brown in his clip.

The clip above was originally James Brown’s T.A.M.I. performance in 1964 but that clip is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Dick Clark Productions. Sorry about that.
Mick Jagger, who produced the new ‘Mr Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’ doco, doesn’t deny Brown was the T.A.M.I. Show’s star performer, but says there was never any animosity between Brown and the Stones. 
We were great fans of James Brown, Jagger said, and great friends. We learnt a lot from him. That’s not a quote, incidentally, it’s a paraphrase. Here’s an actual Jagger quote from the documentary: “If you watch the film, it appears it’s us against him; and you go, well y’know, ‘they’re not quite as good as James Brown’.
But”, Jagger says with a grin and a shrug, “whatever …” Now just take a look at the poster below and marvel at the line up.
What a line up. Concerts don’t get much better than this.
What actually happened, says Jagger, was that the whole studio was cleared and the Stones went on about an hour or two later. “They relit the whole thing and a brand new audience was brought in”, said Mick. “It was another audience of screaming teenage girls. I don’t think they had even seen James Brown.” Take a look at the Stones’
performance that followed James Brown and hour or two later. Keith Richards is supposed to have said it was the biggest mistake of their career following Brown. But while it may not have been their best gig ever, it certainly wasn’t a poor show. It’s the same line-up, too, with the band in exactly the same stage positions, as I saw ‘live’ back in England that same year. Except in the American show, you could actually hear the Stones above the screaming. All I heard in England was “Little Red Rooster”.
The Stones’ T.A.M.I. performance in 1964 (which used to be on this post) has also been removed by YouTube.

 Even if you’re not a James Brown fan, ‘Mr Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’ is a fascinating film featuring the opinions of some of America’s top musicians. One excellent snippet of information came from Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, Brown’s legendary one-time band leader and saxophonist, who I was surprised to learn lives in sleepy Somerset, England.

 

In their prime. Pee Wee Ellis (left) and James Brown

In 2014, the now 78-year-old was given an honorary doctorate by Bath Spa University for his contribution to the local music scene. Pee Wee Ellis continues to support local music as patron (and a principal performer) of the Bristol International Blues and Jazz Festival.

Pee Wee said in the film, “I’ve been told ‘Cold Sweat’ was the first really funk composition. My jazz influence was creeping into his (James Brown’s) R&B so the combination of the two is where funk came from.”
Pee Wee in 2014. he’s still going strong.

Cold Sweat, recorded by James Brown and His Famous Flames in 1967, is generally considered to be the first funk record. With music by Pee Wee Ellis and lyrics by Brown, Cold Sweat was number one of America R&B charts and number six in the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart,

If you’ve read these historic blues pages before, or my books ‘America’s Gift’ and ‘How Blues Evolved’, you might know of the New Orleans dance hall known by its black patrons as the Funky Butt Ballroom during the 1890s. This was apparently named after the pungent stench produced by the hall’s sweat and booze-soaked clientele and provides us an early example of the word funk.
Pee Wee Ellis, back in 2000, attributed James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield’s adoption of New Orleans drumming techniques, as the basis of modern funk.
Said Pee Wee: “If, in a studio, you said ‘play it funky’ that could imply almost anything. But ‘give me a New Orleans beat’ – you got exactly what you wanted. And Clyde Stubblefield was just the epitome of this funky drumming.”

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6 comments

  1. Maybe the Author saw a different show than I and everyone ELSE saw ….
    But it’s true: JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES (BOBBY BYRD, BOBBY BENNETT, and LLOYD STALLWORTH) totally DESTROYED The Rolling Stones. That’s just a FACT, and Jagger can say whatever he wants to, or make all the excuses he can think of…but the camera doesn’t lie. It doesn’t matter if The Stones had come on an hour later…or a week later. Anybody who has the DVD,and can see it from THAT standpoint, perceives that the two acts came on one after the other…so direct comparisons are INEVITABLE.And the result is clear: JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES STOLE THE SHOW. Another myth to correct: JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES were a VOCAL GROUP…with no instrumental members. This misconception has persisted for over 50 years…and needs to be corrected. James Brown’s instrumentalists were part of a COMPLETELY SEPARATE ENTITY known as THE JAMES BROWN BAND (later known as The J.B’s) They were NOT Famous Flames. The Famous Flames were: JAMES BROWN, BOBBY BYRD, BOBBY BENNETT, and LLOYD STALLWORTH. THAT’S IT. NO BANDMEMBERS. James Brown verified this in a 1982 appearance of the David Letterman Show….and that interview is on YouTube for everyone to see.
    When I interviewed Famous Flame BOBBY BENNETT for GOLDMINE Magazine in 2012,at the time of The Famous Flames’induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…as a correction to James Brown’s 1986 solo induction, he made this clear, when he told me something that , as a fan, I had already known. He said, and I quote: “”I want (people) to know one thing,” replied Bennett. “We were the Famous Flames… James Brown was a Famous Flame, Bobby Byrd was a Famous Flame, Lloyd Stallworth was a Famous Flame and Bobby Bennett was a Famous Flame…wherever we played, we were the Famous Flames. We were never the band, NEVER. We were the 3 guys who danced (and sang) with him and the 3 guys who performed with him at every concert. WE WERE NOT NO ‘BAND’. You can’t get any clearer than that.
    Bill Gordon

    Site Administrator for

    The Famous Flames’Facebook Page.

    REFERENCES:

    1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJXITLhrzJw&t=94s

    2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Bennett_(The_Famous_Flames)

    3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Famous_Flames

    4) https://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/bobby-bennett-the-last-of-the-famous-flames-speaks-of-james-brown-more

    5)https://www.facebook.com/thefamousflamesbysandibennett

      1. You’re welcome , Paul.

        Actually, I have personally, spent some 12 years trying to correct this misconception…about this “Famous Flames are JB’S band” nonsense. I have made these corrections on Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, Goldmine Magazine, Rolling Stone, and on other websites…and FINALLY my efforts are beginning to get results. People are FINALLY beginning to credit THE FAMOUS FLAMES for being the great VOCAL GROUP that they WERE. My only regret is that ALL of The FAMOUS FLAMES (Bobby Byrd, Lloyd Stallworth, Bobby Bennett, and Johnny Terry ) were not alive to receive their well-deserved CREDIT…instead of Bennett ALONE. At LEAST Bobby Bennett was still alive to accept induction for The Famous Flames into the 2012 Class of The ROCK and ROLL HALL of FAME…and to see the efforts he made during his life FINALLY begin to bear fruit . Thanks for letting me post my comment !!

        For more information about THE FAMOUS FLAMES…please visit their Official FACEBOOK Page:

        https://www.facebook.com/thefamousflamesbysandibennett/

        Smokey Robinson , whose legendary singing group THE MIRACLES, once said: “If JAMES BROWN was “the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business…
        THE FAMOUS FLAMES were The Hardest-Working GROUP !!”

        1. My pleasure, Bill. Your comments are most welcome.

          So glad to hear more people are becoming aware of your efforts to tell the truth about The Famous Flames. I hope these pages can play a small part in directing FF fans to the relevant websites you have provided.

  2. “The FLAMES was A SINGING GROUP. The BAND are The JB’s. – James Brown to David Letterman- 1982. Here’s the LINK:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJXITLhrzJw

    THE FAMOUS FLAMES: (L-to-R) BOBBY BENNETT, LLOYD STALLWORTH, BOBBY BYRD, and JAMES BROWN. (Yes, James Brown was a Famous Flame TOO)…but his BAND MEMBERS were NOT Famous Flames.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=THE+FAMOUS+FLAMES+T.A.M.I.&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwik0ZSZ3ZziAhVNHqwKHUQvAegQ_AUIDygC&biw=1120&bih=626#imgrc=LoOnMiZRMricWM:

  3. PS: Each individual MEMBER of The FAMOUS FLAMES has his OWN Bio Page on Wikipedia. I am including them here:

    1) JAMES BROWN

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Brown

    2) BOBBY BYRD (Group Founder)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Byrd

    3) BOBBY BENNETT

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Bennett_(The_Famous_Flames)

    4) LLOYD “Baby Lloyd” STALLWORTH

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Lloyd_Stallworth

    AND….THE GROUP BIO:

    5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Famous_Flames

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