James Brown: The singer who creates musical shock waves
The sweat ran off James Brown's face. He sang and went through a routine of dazzling footwork that is one of his trademarks and the audience was clapping in time with the beat.
"Soul Brother Number One" had been on stage about two minutes.
He stepped up to the mike and spoke briefly with the more than 1,000 servicemen and women packed into Saigon's Tan Son Nhut AB's water-soaked main theater. It was the second show of the night. Both were standing-room-only audiences with hundreds more turned away at the doors.
"I've got to say all this now." he told them. "When I get into my tiling, I can't stop." They cheered wildly, and James Brown did his thing, the way only James Brown can do it.
It was the same thing he's been doing for more than 10 years, since he first hit the popular music charts with "Please, Please, Please." Even when he didn't have a record out, he could pack 'em in at such famous rock 'n' roll houses as New York's Apollo and Brooklyn Paramount theaters.
He was a pioneer of soul music. His wild performances, plus the new sound, made him a top attraction everywhere. His 23 single records have sold more than 10 million copies. Four have been million-sellers. Recent successes have been "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," "I Feel Good," "I Got That Feelin' " and "Lickin' Stick."
Soul music was popularized by Negro singers and audiences, and Brown has often used his popularity to reach young Negroes who listen to him. He went to several riot-torn cities and asked for peace, saying. "don't burn, give the kids a chance to learn."
Brown, himself a high school dropout, passed out thousands of "Stay In School" buttons and wrote a song called "Don't Be A Dropout." He has a release out now called "America Is My Home."
"Mr. Brown identifies with the Negro people, and this song is a message to them of the opportunities available to everyone in America," explains Tim Drummond, electric bass player and the only white member of the James Brown Band.
Drummond was one of only five members if the band who accompanied the singer on his three-day tour if Vietnam. The show started with 22 people, including female vocalist Marva Whitney and comedian Clay Tyson. But after their tour of Korea, the group was trimmed to eight because if a shortage of accommodations in Vietnam.