“James Brown on the T.A.M.I. show,” Sting sang Back In The Day, “same tape I’ve had for years.” I vaguely knew about James Brown when I first heard those lyrics, although I had heard nothing beyond “I Feel Good” from him; I had not the slightest idea what the T.A.M.I. show was or why Sting was singing about it.
Flash forward to 2010. The local PBS affiliates have been airing a new restoration of the T.A.M.I. Show concert of 1964. There is James Brown, the hardest workin’ man in show business, laying down “Please Please Please” before a live screaming teen audience. There’s the dancing that terrified parents. There’s the sweat. There’s the super-tight band. There’s the fantastic pompadours. There’s Brown, dropping to his knees, having a cloak draped over him, recovering again and again and again and again. There’s the greatest rock ‘n’ soul performance of all time, one that inspired Prince and Michael Jackson and, heck, even Eddy Murphy on Saturday Night Live. And Sting, of course, made it clear how he felt about Brown.
I shake my head in amazement every time I see this ground-breaking performance. There’s a restored version of the famous T.A.M.I. concert coming out on DVD in a few weeks, but until then, you can listen/watch this lower-resolution version of the most famous part of Brown’s appearance.