Today is James Brown’s birthday. In November 17, 2005, I photographed Brown in an appearance at what was then the Fox Theatre (now the Bob Hope Theatre) in downtown Stockton. It was one of his last performances before he died a little more than a year later on December 25, 2006.
After an announcer’s customary over-the-top introduction, Brown came on stage in a blazing hot-pink tuxedo. At 72, he was far from his prime but backed by a tight, groovin’ big band, Brown rocked the house. And James Brown songs are all about the groove. They’re famous for a strong danceable beat and a head-bobbing, body-swaying bass line. And Brown, with his well-disciplined band (also dressed in hot pink), didn’t disappoint.
Age had only added to his gutturally gruff voice, which was true to form. He even managed to perform his patented shuffle and slide but didn’t do the splits. At his age, I don’t think any one in the audience really expected him to. They were just happy to be in the presence of a Soul legend and wanted to groove to the beat.