James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died today aged 73. Sad news for Christmas Day.
I had the good fortune to see James Brown live, playing a gig in a large marquee in my home town of Bristol. The summers here often see a number of music events held at Ashton Court, a large open space in the grounds of a stately house. Most concerts tend to feature local bands on the way up, or local made-it-big bands on the wane but this one was different : it cost money and featured artists you might want to actually see.
Our headline act was James Brown. Amongst my friends, we were incredulous that we were going to see the ‘actual’ James Brown, rather suspecting that it could well be the much less famous James Brown, of Bedminster, Bristol. As the lights went down on the previous set by Asian Dub Foundation, the anticipation rose. The spotlights focussed. The real show began.
But it was him. James Brown, legend, in Bristol, supported by his enormous band comprising maybe 30 people. What a gig, what a man.
He was an immaculate performer – even in his late 60s or early 70s. It’s important to remember though that we were not just hearing a man perform great songs (although, that was obvious), we were listening to a man that created a music genre and not just great music. That’s remarkable.
Sad day to hear he’s gone.