Nobody (but the Rolling Stones) Follows James Brown!

Mick Jagger and James Brown meet for the first time back stage at the T.A.M.I. show on october 28, 1964

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…”

Two dates into the second-ever U.S. Tour, the Rolling Stones performed in Santa Monica, California for The T.A.M.I. Show movie. october 28, 1964 photo bob bonis

Two dates into the second-ever U.S. Tour, the Rolling Stones performed in Santa Monica, California for The T.A.M.I. Show movie.

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!

Brian Epstein: Two Sides of a Valuable Coin

All four Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison board an airplane at the SeaTac airport in Washington, Augst 22, 2964

While The Beatles became accustomed to being embroiled in controversy, there was a key player behind the scenes of the band’s success and image that created a drama of its own.

Brian Epstein, born September 19, 1934, is best known for his role as The Beatles’ manager and is largely credited with their discovery, as well as a key player in their rise to fame.

His management of the band was undoubtedly important to their success, but his business dealings drew much criticism, and the man’s personal life was a whirlwind of gambling and drug abuse that would ultimately become the catalyst for his demise.

When Epstein first heard of The Beatles, he was working at his family’s record and musical instrument shop. Then, on the fateful day of November 9, 1961, he saw the group perform onstage at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

The group he saw on stage that night, though, was in direct need of an “Epsteinification.” They just didn’t know it yet. At the time, according to History.com, they would eat and drink onstage between songs, dress in all-black leather, and play only cover songs.

Epstein and The Beatles’ Rise to Fame

But nonetheless, The Beatles had made a powerful first impression. He said he was enthralled by “their music, their beat and their sense of humor onstage,” reports the New York Times. He quickly decided The Beatles would become the biggest band in the world. He said, “My own sense of inferiority and frustration evaporated with The Beatles because I knew I could help them.”

In early December of 1961, Epstein and the band began discussing the possibility and terms of his management role. By the end of January, he was officially their manager. Although he didn’t have experience managing an artistic group, he was very influential in determining the band’s signature appearance and their trademark end-of-show bow to the crowd.

The Beatles take a bow on stage at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota on August 21, 1965. Photo by Bob Bonis

During his time with the group, he managed the band’s business affairs, but he also helped to settle interpersonal conflicts. Epstein worked tirelessly for The Beatles, and as a result, its members trusted him with an ardent loyalty. Author Johnny Rogan writes in Starmakers and Svengalis: The History of British Pop Management, “Even on the brink of a nervous breakdown, his devotion to the Fab Four was all-consuming.”

Tragically, on August 27, 1967, at the age of 32, Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose after taking too many sleeping pills. Epstein had been with them for the entire trek up to the summit. But with his sudden death, anticipation of climbing down from the peak crept in suddenly, as did the truth behind some of Epstein’s business dealings.

Brian Epstein Remembered

In the biography Many Years From Now, Paul McCartney said that the band had always signed the contracts presented to them by Epstein without reading them. Following Epstein’s death, John Lennon bemoaned, “Well, he was alright. I’ve found out since, of course, that he wasn’t quite as honest to us as he made out.” However, in his biography For the Record, Lennon attested to the band’s loyalty to Epstein by saying, “We had complete faith in him when he was running us. To us, he was the expert.”

Despite the controversy, Epstein was without any doubt instrumental in The Beatles’ rise to fame. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, when asked about the time following Epstein’s death, Lennon said, “I knew that we were in trouble then. I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared. I thought, ‘We’ve had it.’”

Although The Beatles were beginning their descent from the top, the view was still clear and bright as each member carried on with their respective, similarly best-selling solo projects. But, also in the background of The Beatles’ success was their U.S. Tour Manager, Bob Bonis.

Bonis served as U.S. Tour Manager for all three of the band’s American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond). As he worked with the Fab Four, he also satisfied his passion for photography, capturing rare and never before seen moments in rock-n-roll history.

These iconic and intimate photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

There are no products