April 16, 2024

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Sylvester Stallone helped save James Brown's career in the 1980s

Sylvester Stallone helped save James Brown's career in the 1980s

Chuck Arnold


After a great string of hits from the 1960s to 1970s, including classics like 60s “Daddy got a brand new bag,” “It's a Man's World” in 1966, “Super Bad” in the 1970s, and “1974.” “Payment of money” —James Brown's recording career was destroyed by the disco explosion of the mid-1970s.

“At such an interesting time, especially in New York, everything is happening,” Mick Jagger says in the new four-part A&E documentary “James Brown: Say It Loud,” which Rolling Stone executive produced with Ahmed “Questlove” Thompson. “.

“You've got punk happening, disco happening, and it's all mixed in. A lot of people have been left behind in this, because this is a big change, a radical change, in the music landscape.

And Part 3 of “Say It Loud” – which premieres tonight, alongside Part 4 – reveals that Brown was “upset” about how much disco he borrowed from his chart.

James Brown brought funk to the 1985 film “Rocky IV,” co-starring recently deceased actor Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed. ©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

“I was the one who started disco,” he says. Godfather of the soul In the document. “Disco is really the soul recording patch.”

As the 1980s began, Brown struggled to achieve major hits. His record company cut his budget, and he had major tax problems.

But Soul Brother No. 1 regained his composure by bringing his own funk music to the film.

“All the other bands took the genius of James Brown and ate it up and borrowed it,” says executive producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in James Brown: Say It Loud. See Journal Collection/Library of Congress

After his raucous appearance as a preacher in the 1980s film “The Blues Brothers,” the late legend got an even bigger boost when Sylvester Stallone asked Brown to record a song for the 1980s film. “Rocky IV.”

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“Living in America” ​​eventually reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Brown his second Grammy Award — for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance — in 1987.

“when 'Living in America' “It came out, it changed James Brown's career at that point, because he hadn't had a big record out in a long time,” his former manager Jack Bart says on Say It Loud. “His money went up, his popularity went up. James Brown was in heaven again.

“Living in America” ​​was James Brown's final Top 10 single, and won the soul legend his second Grammy Award. Scientific photo album

Ironically, Brown's last 10 singles — which were produced and co-written by disco star Dan Hartman (“Relight My Fire,” “Instant Replay”) — found him reclaiming the sound of '70s dance.

“It's almost like the village people. That's what it's really like,” says Dr. Jason King, dean of the USC Thornton School of Music. “It's like 'YMCA' or 'Macho Man' or something like that. But it just works.”

It was a huge payback for Brown after countless works had been stolen from him, as Questlove points out: “Every other band had taken, eaten up and borrowed the genius of James Brown.”

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Carl Weathers


James Brown

Mick Jagger

Music documentaries

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Sylvester Stallone

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