A Photograph, A Story: "James Brown in concert in 1967"

James Brown in concert in 1967
"James Brown (1933-2006) American singer of soul, gospel and rhythm and blues, in concert at Olympia September 21, 1967" Bridgeman Images

James Brown in concert in 1967 by Bridgeman Images Agency

An unusual childhood cradled by the street

James Brown grew up away from his parents, along with a aunt-in-law from a brothel: little Brown took care of knocking customers off for the ladies and sometimes danced for a few dollars. He chained odd jobs and refuses to go to school, preferring to sing Louis Jordan in a gospel choir.

Self-taught, he learned piano and drums until he was arrested for car theft and finished at Toccoa's correctional home for juvenile delinquents. So nicknamed the "Music Box", he develops his musical abilities and forms a group of other inmates. They occur thus in the surrounding prisons. It is then spotted by the pianist Bobby Byrd with whom it forms the group The Flames: their first single Please, Please, Please fate in 1956 and sells a million copies.

  1967: The Golden Age of James Brown & The Famous Flames

It is September 21, 1967. James Brown & The Famous Flames perform at the Olympia for a performance. Lloys Stallworth left the group the year before after their first appearance in The Ed Sullivan Show. So only Bobby Bennet, Bobby Byrd and James Brown perform on the boards of the Olympia.


James Brown set out to build the identity of funk music, often accompanied by rhetoric for the struggle for civil rights. That year, "The Godfather of Soul" then knows his golden age: his piece Cold Sweat is also considered the first piece funk. It's the consecration.

  The arrival of disco marks a turning point in his career

In 1970, some members of the group left him to seize other opportunities. He creates a new group, always accompanied by Bobby Byrd. He integrates bassist Bootsy Collins, guitarist Catfish Collins and trombonist Fred Wesley. The JB's are very successful with Get Up (Sex Machine). At the end of the 70's, the band broke up again and the disco was in full swing. Although James Brown adapts to this new musical style, he will never feel as comfortable as in his past rhythms.

James Brown, during his ten years at the top we have been dancing to variations of rhythm'n blues, soul, but also funk. The end of his career is unfortunately marked by justice and illness: he died on 25 December 2006 of pneumonia.


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