With the James Brown movie entitled Get On Up, being released this weekend, I was fortunate enough to speak with his long time friend and manager, Charles A. Bobbit.
I knew at 7 years old that I would be involved in show business. I could not sing or even dance, but I knew one day I would be the power behind an entertainer. My opportunity came when I saw James Brown at the Apollo. I told my wife, Ruth, I would work for James Brown one day. My future was with him. I asked Mr. Brown for a job but it took a few meetings before he hired me. The day he hired me he invited me to his home and it was there he read me. He told me I would be with him until the day he died. He told me about myself, my ambitions and knew things about me he couldnt possibly know. I met him in 1966, but it wasnt until 1967 that he hired me. However, during all that time he was secretly training me to be his personal manager. He explained there would be too much jealousy if he told people I was his personal manager so he would train me from the ground up. He started me off as his personal valet and I went everywhere with him while he taught me about the good and bad of show business. Mr. Browns training was so intense, I called myself having attended the University of Brown, said the 84 year old Mr. Bobbit.
According to Charles Bobbit, James Brown was an unusual man, changing mood and temperament on a dime. Although not a bad man, Brown was complex and someone who couldnt be debated or argued with nor taken for granted. He was a humane individual that favored education. And he knew music, even though he couldnt read or write music. It was all in his head. Brown insisted his music came directly from God. Bobbit never saw James rehearse his dance moves, he simply could move fast. He was limber and had small feet and tiny legs. Brown came up with the idea of using a cape after watching the wrestler Gorgeous George wrap a towel around his self. The cape became an integral part of Browns act.
Over the years, Browns knees became arthritic from dropping to the floor during his songs. His knees sometimes would bleed and were scarred and busted up but he didnt share that with people. He was a very private and proud man, explained Charles. Mr. Brown was traditional. He insisted on being called Mr. Brown and he himself called people either Mr or Miss. Mr. Browns word was law. People got along with him as long as you let him be right. That was the way it was. Everyone knew this. He wasnt always correct, but I will tell you something, Mr. Brown was talking about satellites in 1966. We thought he was nuts but later on all the things he predicted came to be.
Charles Bobbit also worked with Michael Jackson for three years and advised West African President Omar Bongo and his family. He has a book entitled, Making it Happen. He is currently shopping for a book deal. I know that things are said in other books that are not always true. I was with James Brown for nearly 40 years and I have documented all he said and did, so mine will be an accurate book, said Bobbit who dubbed Brown the Godfather of Soul.
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You know James Brown scored the movie Black Caesar, with Fred Williamson without even watching the movie. I told him about it and based on what I told him about the movie, Mr. Brown scored it. I also saw the current movie, Get On Up, and even though they left me out and other people close to Mr. Brown out, I thought it was a good movie. Its more about his music than his life but I encourage people to see it.
Brown was starting to have health problems. He recovered from prostrate cancer but started to feel the effects of aging, diabetes, etc., and decided to slow down touring. He began coughing, and looked weak although he would not admit to it. He lost weight. Mr. Bobbit became concerned when James was due to get dental work and asked a doctor to be at the dentist office to examine James before he was gassed for oral surgery. The doctor told James that he needed to go to the hospital after examining him. This was Christmas Eve. Mr. Bobbit stayed in the hospital room with James when the doctors left after telling Brown they had to drain fluid from his heart. Bobbit discussed with Brown, Browns upcoming tour, his movie, and the album James was recording. James gave Bobbit instruction concerning what to do when he passed. Bobbit assured Brown he was fine. But James said No, I am leaving here tonight. Bobbit insisted Brown would be fine. James repeated he would be leaving that night. He then clutched his chest, said he was on fire and burning up, fell back on the bed, sighed 3 times, opened his eyes and mouth wide, and died that morning, Christmas Day, at 1:21 am. Mr. Brown died of congestive heart failure.
One cannot pack a lifetime into a 2 hour movie or even into this article. For further info about Charles Bobbits 40 years with James Brown listen to my show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blakeradio/2014/07/29/topically-yours--charles-bobbitt-james-brown-mgr
Obama honors 24, including George Lucas, at White House
President Barack Obama chats with actress, playwright, and professor Anna Deavere Smith before awarding her the 2012 National Humanities Medal during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2013. UPI/Molly Riley
WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama presented the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal to 24 recipients, including filmmaker George Lucas, at the White House.
President Barack Obama chats with George Lucas before awarding him the 2012 National Medal of Arts for his contributions to American cinema during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2013. UPI/Molly Riley
In ceremonies at the East Room, the president presented the 2012 National Medal of Arts to musician Herb Alpert, philanthropist Lin Arison, dance teacher Joan Myers Brown, operatic soprano Renee Fleming, writer Ernest Gaines, artist Ellsworth Kelly, playwright Tony Kushner, writer-filmmaker Elaine May, landscape architect Laurie Olin, musician Allen Toussaint, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.
President Barack Obama greets composer, producer, and performer Allen Toussaint before awarding him the 2012 National Medal of Arts during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2013. UPI/Molly Riley
Obama presented the 2012 National Humanities Medal to University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers, former Princeton University President William G. Bowen, writer Jill Ker Conway, historian Natalie Zemon Davis, sports writer Frank Deford, writer Joan Didion, Harvard University Professor Robert Putnam, writer Marilynne Robinson, poet Kay Ryan, New York Review of Books Editor Robert B. Silvers, actress-playwright Anna Deavere Smith, and writer-photographer Camilo Jose Vergara.
President Obama awards National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal
President Barack Obama awards the 2012 National Medal of Arts to Herb Alpert during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2013. UPI/Molly Riley
"One of the special privileges of this office is getting a chance to honor individuals who've played an important role in my life as well as in the nation's life," the president said. "And that's what today is all about -- celebrating some extraordinary men and women who've used their talents in the arts and the humanities to open up minds and nourish souls, and help us understand what it means to be human, and what it means to be an American."
Obama said the group is "pretty diverse" but they have one thing in common -- "they are teachers. Whether they realize it or not, they've taught us about ourselves and about our world."
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