Remembering James Brown: Performing Live At Montreux Festival 1981
James Brown died on this day, Christmas, 14 years ago. Brown was born on May 3, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina with his family moving to Augusta, Georgia when he was young. It was in Georgia where James began his music career singing in local talent shows. In the 1950s, JB joined a group called The Famous Flames, eventually becoming the frontman and gaining national success with early hits like “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me,” setting him on the road to change the music world in a big way.
James Brown’s influence over modern popular music is immeasurable. As his nickname, the Godfather of Soul, suggests, Brown began in his musical journey in that spiritual space between gospel and its secular sister, soul. But JB quickly began to push boundaries and was soon at the forefront of an emerging genre called funk along with collaborators and fellow funk progenitors including Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and more. Brown was also famous for his electrifying stage performance, with mind-boggling dance moves that would influence pop stars like Michael Jackson, garnering him additional honorific nicknames like Mr. Dynamite and the “Hardest Working Man In Show Business.
Both Brown’s showmanship and catalog of soul and funk classics are on full display during his appearance at the 1981 Montreux Festival held near Lake Geneva in Switzerland. James and his band put their good foot on the gas and pretty much never let off throughout the career-spanning set — captured for posterity in the concert film James Brown: Live at Montreux 1981 — and including “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” “Gonna Have A Funky Good Time,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Please, Please, Please,” It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” a set-closing “Sex Machine” and more.
To remember James Brown, watch the Godfather Of Soul perform at Montreux in 1981 below via the JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA):