Watch the Classic James Brown Performances That Inspired Get on Up

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 1 2014 9:09 AM

Watch the Classic James Brown Performances That Inspired Get on Up

James Brown.
Left: Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get on Up. Right: James Brown performs at the Olympia in Paris in 1971.

Composite by Slate. Left: Photo by D Stevens/Universal Pictures. Right: Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.

In Tate Taylor’s new James Brown biopic Get On Up, star Chadwick Boseman recreates Brown’s signature performance style and dance moves with aplomb. Still, nothing can compare to watching Soul Brother No. 1 himself. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the readily available iconic performances restaged in Get On Up. Watching them, you can see how the movie didn’t need to exaggerate a thing.

Advertisement

T.A.M.I. Show, 1964

Many future legends performed at the Teenage Awards Music International Show, filmed in front of a live audience, including Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, and the Supremes. But it’s James Brown’s electrifying performance (with his original backing vocalists the Famous Flames) that is probably most remembered from the show today. Watching the full set, it’s not hard to see why the Rolling Stones were hesitant to follow him.

Ski Party, 1965

Confused as to why Get On Up features a scene with Brown and the Famous Flames performing “I Feel Good” in “white boy sweaters” at a ski lodge? Well, it really happened: The group filmed the cameo for Ski Party, a winter-fied replica of the infamous Beach Party series, starring, of course, Frankie Avalon.

Live at the Boston Garden, 1968

Unsurprisingly, the film includes a recreation of snippets of this historic performance from April 5, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. The televised concert almost didn’t happen: Black city councilman Tom Atkins had to convince Boston mayor Kevin White that Brown’s concert needed to go on as previously scheduled in order to lower the chances of rioting. Above, in full, is the nearly 90-minute performance.

(Brown comes on stage around six minutes in. The moment when Brown affectionately chastised the crowd for trying to rush the stage, as portrayed in the film, comes at the 1:29:30 mark.)

Paris, 1971

Toward the end of the film, we get a great medley from one of Brown’s concerts in Paris in 1971. By that time, the Famous Flames had been replaced with new backing band the J.B.’s, featuring brothers Catfish Collins and Bootsy Collins (later members of Parliament Funkadelic). The scene also features Boseman wearing a funky gold bell-bottomed unitard. I couldn’t find any clips of Brown performing in that same extraordinary outfit, but the performance above, filmed at the Olympia, was likely its inspiration. (Brown does don a less flashy, but no less funky navy blue bell-bottomed unitard.)

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 2:57 PM ISIS Helps Snuff Out Conservative Opposition to Government Funding Bill
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?