Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Arnett Remembers the Godfather of Soul

Arnett Howard sent us this personal memory of the legendary James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, who died on this past Christmas day. Included in the photograph are the late Hank Marr and Bill Moss who I also knew and admired.

"My People,

Happy holiday and we celebrate the life of Mister Dynamite, James Brown (JB). As a teen, growing up in music in the early 1960s, he was everything to me.

My Plain City neighborhood kids and I were blessed because we had an uncle, Bill Chapman aka Happy Chappy, who was a radio announcer on WVKO-AM & FM. When James came to Columbus, and he came often, Chappy would be one of the promoters rubbing shoulders with James and after keeping us waiting for ever, Chappy would bring his boys into the dressing room for a peek and handshake with the star.

Without a doubt, my greatest memory of JB was from the summer of 1967 when he performed at the Ohio State Fair Grandstand, doing four shows in two marathon days. My Dad and I watched the first show together and he left me in the grandstand that evening because he trusted me to take care of myself. I witnessed the late show, found my way to my cousin Pinky's apartment and went back the next afternoon for two more shows.

My entry in to professional music was that summer also, with the Vadicans Band of London, Ohio. I played my way on stage at the Arena Lounge on East Main Street to Cold Sweat, JB's hit during that summer.

I greeted James and his wife at Port Columbus Airport in 1983 and in 1986, I was on the way to the Newport Music Hall when I spotted JB's motorcoach in the alley behind the theater. It was the tour season that was promoting Living In America. I walked up the rear steps and asked the first person I saw if Maceo Parker, JB's great alto saxophonist, was on the tour. Within seconds I was pointed up stairs that led into the band's dressing room.

That evening I had a front row seat at the Newport courtesy of the James Brown Band.

JB has become an ancestor and one who has left us tears of joy. He was Black, proud and he said it LOUD. Long live the King.

With love,


Photo caption: Hank Marr, James Brown, Bill Moss, unknown, Columbus, Ohio. 1966.

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