..the self-described "Godfather of Soul" and giant of 20th century American music, died early Christmas Day at the age of 73.
Brown's agent Frank Copsidas said the singer was hospitalized with severe pneumonia on Sunday, December 25, 2006, Christmas Day. Brown died around 1:45 a.m. ET on Monday of heart failure at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Ga.

Born May 3, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina, Brown took up keyboards, then drums and bass at an early age. Dropping out of school in the seventh grade Brown picked cotton, shined shoes, danced for pennies in the streets of Augusta, Georgia and stole. Convicted of armed robbery at the age of 16, he spent three years in a juvenile detention facility. It was there that he met Bobby Byrd, who with his family gospel group visited the institution to perform. Byrd's family helped get Brown released by taking him in and getting him a job. brown tried semiprofessional sports, first as a boxer, then as a baseball pitcher, but a leg injury ruined his chances of going pro. In the meantime, Brown and Byrd put together a gospel group, that performed under a number of names at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Tocca, Georgia and at auditoriums in the area. Byrd and Brown sang duets with three or four other members singing background vocals and harmonies. After seeing a rock and roll show featuring Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, Fats Domino, and others Brown and Byrd quit gospel music, transforming the group into the Flames. Each Flame sang, danced and played an instrument or two. Brown's were piano and drums. Byrd played keyboards and vocals and would remain Brown's sideman for the next three plus decades.

brownoriginal.jpg (196859 bytes) Original Flames 1956: James Brown on drums and Bobby Byrd on piano

From their Macon Georgia base, the Flames had been touring the South when Ralph Bass, head of Federal Records, signed them in 1956. "Please, Please Please," their first Federal single, was a big hit regionally and eventually sold a million copies. Subsequent releases in the same gospel influenced yet distinctly rougher R&B style made Brown a regional star until "Try Me" (#1 R&B, #48 pop).became a national hit in 1958.

brownstudio.jpg (141156 bytes) In the studio during the early days

Brown had become the leader of the groups now called the Famous Flames. Guided by Universal Attractions director Ben Bart, Brown created the James Brown Revue. The show was precisely choreographed, with Brown pumping his hips, twisting on one foot, and doing the splits as the troupe would execute their own intricate steps. Sweating off seven pounds a night, breaking box office records In every major black venue in America, Brown was nicknamed "Mr. Dynamite" and was called "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business".

Brown's band became one of the best in the business. He wanted to showcase them on his records, but Federal refused to let him use them on his records, so he arranged for them to record for another company as Nat Kendrick and the Swans. The resulting instrumental hit "Mashed Potatoes" convinced King, Federal's parent company, to take over Brown's contract and sign the James Brown Band for Brown's sessions as a separate act. From then on Brown concentrated on pared down jump and shout dance music.

Brown's Live at the Apollo, recorded in Harlem in 1962 sold a million copies, unprecedented for a black music album. Frustrated by King's failure to reach into the white market, Brown and Byrd formed Fair Deal Productions. Fair Deal released "Out of Sight" through Smash Records was a #1 R&B, #24 pop hit.

Brown rose to the fore as leader of the James Brown Revue - an entourage complete with emcee, dancers and an untouchable stage band (the J.B.'s). Reportedly sweating off up to seven pounds a night, Brown was a captivating performer who'd incorporate a furious regimen of spins, drops and shtick (such as feigning a heart attack, complete with the ritual donning and doffing of capes and a fevered return to the stage) into his skintight rhythm & blues. What Elvis Presley was to rock and roll, James Brown became to R&B: a prolific and dominant phenom. Like Presley, he is a three-figure hitmaker, with 114 total entries on Billboard's R&B singles charts and 94 that made the Hot 100 singles chart. Over the years, he amassed 800 songs in his repertoire while maintaining a grueling touring schedule. Recording for the King and Federal labels throughout the Fifties and Sixties, Brown distilled R&B to its essence on such classic albums as Live at the Apollo (patterned after Ray Charles' In Person) and singles like "Cold Sweat," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)." His group, the J.B.'s, was anchored by horn players and musical mainstays Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. Brown also recorded a series of instrumental albums, taking a break from soul shouting to pursue his prowess as an organist.

James Brown
"Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" -- those are mighty titles, but no one can question that James Brown has earned them more than any other performer. Other singers were more popular, others were equally skilled, but few other African-American musicians have been so influential on the course of popular music. And no other musician, pop or otherwise, put on a more exciting, exhilarating stage show; Brown's performances were marvels of athletic stamina and split-second timing.

James Brown's status as "The Godfather of Soul" remains undiminished. Brown's enthusiasm and faith have never wavered. Indeed, he has picked up a new generation of fans who have become familiar with his funk grooves through their frequent use as samples on rap records. A charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Brown added to his collection of accolades when he received a special lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 1992.

Godfather of Soul

James Brown

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Comment by Edie Antoinette on November 18, 2007 at 10:55am
Awwww, thank you Rico Baby and My Suggah Sole!! I agree with both of you on that James and Pavoratti..that's a classic..WONDERFUL!!!!
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on November 18, 2007 at 5:57am
Gotta agree with Brother Rico, James and Pav was awesome...I remember the dancing video and trying to do the Camel Walk...LOL, but lets discuss the last video Classic James with the dance moves, look at his shoes on Papa's got a brand new bag...I can see my reflection....LOL
Comment by enrico on November 15, 2007 at 1:48pm
OMG,,this post is the best ,simply the best,,,,,and the video of James and Pav,,,is AWSOME,,very deep to me

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Introspection

Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue



The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 


As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.

 

The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
   
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
   
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
 



Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪

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