Less than two years after becoming a band and only two days into their second U.S. Tour, the boys from the Rolling Stones performed following soul legend James Brown, and the “Godfather of Soul” was not happy about it.
The Stones were scheduled to perform after James Brown at The T.A.M.I. Show (or Teenage Awards Music International), one of, if not the first concert film featuring multiple acts from popular rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues artists from the United States and England.
The concert was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964. Local high school students were given free tickets to the two shows and the best footage was edited into the film that was released on December 29, 1964.
The concerts showcased performances from classic artists such as The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and of course James Brown and the Rolling Stones. In 2006 the U.S. Library of Congress deemed the recording “culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically significant” enough to be preserved in the National Film Registry.
Tough Act to Follow
The Stones, however, were apprehensive about their place in the concert line up and came to regret performing after James Brown. In the 2003 book According to the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger explained, “We weren’t actually following James Brown because there was considerable time between the filming of each section. Nevertheless, he was still very annoyed about it…”
Before his performance, Brown was backstage and in a rage, shouting something along the lines of: “Nobody follows James Brown!” at the show’s director, Steve Binder.
As reported by The New Yorker, the Rolling Stones were painfully aware of how Brown mastered the stage, and during his performance “they watched him from the wings, just twenty feet away, and, as they did, they grew sick with anxiety.”
Remember, the Stones were new on the scene and James Brown was already a mega-star.
In the DVD notes of The T.A.M.I. Show Collector’s Edition, Keith Richards said that choosing to perform after James Brown & The Furious Flames was the biggest mistake of their careers. No matter how well they could perform, there was no possible way they could outshine the “Godfather.” In his memoir Brown recalls the T.A.M.I. performance: “We did a bunch of songs, nonstop, like always … I don’t think I ever danced so hard in my life, and I don’t think they’d ever seen a man move that fast.”
Getting’ On Up
But the boys from London with a keen interest in rhythm and blues set their apprehensions aside and followed Marvin Gaye’s instructions: “Just go out there and do your best.” Welcomed by screaming fans, they rocked out to a set list including covers of “Around and Around” by Chuck Berry and “It’s All Over Now” by Bobby Womack.
Brown eventually warmed up to Jagger, though, and they got to talking to each other backstage. In an interview with Variety, Jagger said, “[James] was very generous and kind with me and he wasn’t kind with everybody. I really appreciated that. I always studied him and the way he moved, the way he always gave his best and always changed up his style.”
The iconic meeting of the two musical legends was captured by Bob Bonis and his faithful Leica M3 camera while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for the Stones, a role he assumed for their first five trips to the States between 1964 and 1966 (and for all three of The Beatles’ U.S. Tours as well).
This moment and other previously unreleased photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!