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Memories of The Godfather

Memories of The Godfather

Of Soul that is. The passing on Christmas day of James Brown brought to mind two 1970’s experiences with “the hardest working man in show business” that I’m sure I’ll carry with me forever. The first was actually a movie-going one, while the second was a live show.

I never knew about THE T.A.M.I. SHOW until I got to college in the mid-70’s. Released by American Internatioonal Pictures in 1965, this b&w musical time capsule of 1964 is simply one of the greatest concert films ever made. The “Teenage Awards Music International” lineup, shot by TV cameras at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and kinescoped onto film by director Steve Binder, featured Glen Campbell as a guitarist in the house band, an uncredited Teri Garr and Toni Basil as two of the go-go dancers, and the following musical acts: The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye (w/ Martha & the Vandellas backing him up!) , Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, The Beach Boys (cut from the film for legal reasons or some B.S.), Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Ronettes, The Barbarians, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, and…Mr. James Brown. As unbelievable as this lineup was for one concert, what I remember best is “Soul Brother No. 1” blowing the place apart with an amazing “Please, Please, Please” complete with electrifying footwork, multiple false endings, the whole breakdown and cape bit, and a raw energy that must have stunned all of those white teenagers.

Unfortunately, those 16mm prints from Kit Parker Films are long gone (as is the company), and THE T.A.M.I. SHOW remains without official distribution of any kind (theatrical, non-theatrical, home video, or dvd). What a shame–this quintissential 60’s music film should be at the top of every “Why the hell isn’t this out on DVD already?” list.

I was fortunate enough to see James Brown perform live around that same time in the mid-70’s in NYC. He played the Lone Star Cafe (not a large place) and I just kept wondering how the hell all those musicians in his huge band were going to fit on the stage. Not only did they fit, but he even found room to work those magical dance moves and bring the whole place to a R & B, funk and soul frenzy. One of my fondest memories in nearly four decades of concert-going.

R.I.P. J.B.


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