THE ULTIMATE CROWD-PLEASER: Unlike Tate Taylor’s unflinching new biopic about James Brown, “Get On Up,” one of Brown’s sons, Daryl, portrays the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business” with more compassion in his book, “Inside the Godfather of Soul: Never Before Told Stories by James Brown.” Due out Thursday, the tome details the musician’s workaholic ways, running on three to five hours of sleep as needed. The elder Brown “came from past zero,” often reminding others that he grew up barefoot in a shack with a dirt floor, his son said.
Long before he made his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Brown mastered his image. “He did everything from top to bottom. He designed his own clothes and all of the band’s costumes. He got the idea for the cape for ‘Please, Please, Please’ from Gorgeous George, the pro wrestler. He saw him flaming the cape when he stepped into the ring and said, ‘Man, I can do that in my place,’” Daryl Brown told WWD.
This story first appeared in the July 29, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The author, who spent part of his childhood and eight years touring on the road with his father until his death in 2006, said the idea of a legacy never crossed his father’s mind. “With civil rights and a lot of the other stuff he did, there was no big TV interview or meeting,” Brown said. “He was just involved with it. He did everything from the heart. He knew he had to go to see the people to help the people.”
While driving through the Bowery in its more rough-and-tumble days, the “Godfather of Soul” wasn’t above stopping the car to talk to a couple of guys drinking wine on a corner “to tell them their life could be a whole lot better. He would say, ‘Look at me. I had nothing. I came from nothing.’”
Although the younger Brown has only seen trailers for the new flick, his two daughters have seen the film and the older one fell asleep. “She’s 24 — a grown woman — so it couldn’t be that great. The movie shows him in one light and my book shows him in the true light,” he claimed.
A trailer featuring Brown (as played by Chadwick Boseman) firing a gun is inaccurate, according to his son. “The gun he had didn’t fire. You could have used it as a walking stick,” he said, claiming the film crew did not consult with Brown’s family or his longtime emcee, Danny Ray. “In this media, what sells is negativity. They don’t know what a giving man he was,” Brown said. “He took care of people’s mortgages. When Sammy Davis Jr. died broke, he helped his wife.”
One of 12 children fathered by Brown (by his own estimate), Daryl Brown said, “Five came out of the woodwork after he passed.” His book also alleges that the eldest son, Teddy, did not die in a car accident in 1973 as reported, but was shot execution style.
Violence was something that James Brown disdained about rap, according to his son. But he was a fan of Snoop Dogg, whose request to name his 2002 album, “Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Boss,” was allowed with one caveat — “just don’t cuss in my music.” MC Hammer was another big fan, giving him $300,000 when he was released from jail in 1990. Daryl Brown said, “He did it because he just loved James Brown. He has said if it wasn’t for James Brown, he wouldn’t be here — the music, the dancing everything.”