From the Stars and Stripes archives

No. 1 Soul Brother packs the house at Yongsan Garrison

James Brown, onstage at Yongsan Garrison in June, 1968.


By CALVIN POSNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 10, 1968

SEOUL — Close to 4,000 soldiers, civilians and high school students waited in long lines at the six entrances to the Collier Field House, Yongsan. The lines started forming around noon even though the USO show scheduled to appear there was not slated to start until 7:30 p.m. Friday.

When the James Brown show began, the field house was lined by about 2,000 people. MPs allowed another 1,000 to seat themselves on the floor in the aisles during the early part of the program. Another 800 were forced to stay outside and satisfy themselves with the music that sounded out into the night air.

Standard show-biz ballyhoo like "electrifying" and "part carnival-part revival" may be true, but can't do justice to a modern folk-hero whose musical career began as a shoeshine boy in front of a radio station in Augusta. Ga. — a property, by the way, he has recently purchased.

The James Brown Orchestra, complete with two full drums ensembles, a three-piece string section, an electric organ, the usual electrically amplified guitars and a wind section, throbbed with that certain sound known as "soul."

"Soul Brother No-I" James Brown, started his program with a promise:

"I'm going to give you enough soul to last you until you get home."

He is, indeed, a man of his word.

Brown and his famous band played all their hits including: "Baby, Baby, Baby", "I Feel Good", "If I Ruled the World" and "Kansas City".

He brought a talented female singer, Marva Whitney, with him on the tour. She demonstrated an outstanding vocal range and a highly diversified repertoire ranging from an Aretha Franklin type rendition of "Respect" to a Barbra Streisand-Maria Callas-James Brown version "People, People."

One young airman in the gathering commented, "She has the most highly developed and sophisticated delivery system I've ever seen."

Clay Tyson, a comedian specializing in satiric social comment centered on racial humor, proved too much for AFKN "Vagabond" radio which was broadcasting the James Brown Show live throughout the Republic of Korea.

The remote broadcast from the field house was suspended and replaced with a musical interlude originating from AFKN's main studio.

Clay concluded his part of the program with a musically accompanied pantomime sketch depicting a young "dude" taking a drive with his favorite "chick"

During Brown's final segment of the program, the house went wild as people stood up in their seats clapping their hands
  and hands and shouting "Sock it to 'em James."

James Brown, onstage at Yongsan Garrison in June, 1968.