THE COMPANION ,
janitor. Those are the things which make me thank Godl’
The only child of a poor backwoods family. he was sent to Augusta. Georgia at age five to live at his aunt Honey’s brothel. The young James Brown earned his keep by running errands for soldiers at nearby Camp Gordon. He would entertain them with his buck dancing and entice them into his aunt‘s I establishment. ln I952. he joined the Gospel Starlighters. a quartet led by Bobby Byrd: they evolved into the Avons. then the R ‘n’ B outfit Flames. In 1956. ‘Please. Please. Please'. his first hit. reached Number Five on the Billboard R 'n‘ B chart.
Later accolades include membership of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. which took into account 98 American R 'n' B hits in the Billboard charts — more than any other artist.
So. what is it with the cape business and all that collapsing onstage. which has helped him to straddle blues. R ‘n‘ B. funk and soul genres so effortlessly?
‘The cape is a take off of the gospel tradition where you sang until you could feel the spirit.‘
Brown says. 'When you can feel the spirit. you go off
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and then you come back because you can‘t help how much feeling there is to it. That’s how thankful you are that God put you where you‘re at. That's a real tradition that I never forgot. It was the thing which made me realise my calling.’
James Brown plays the Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow on Tuesday 21 July.
9—23 Jul 1998 THE IJST15