Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Years ago a guy in my dorm at The University of the Pacific said, “Gentry, James Brown is playing tonight!” The “Grandfather of Soul” mesmerized a packed auditorium in Stockton, California. When James sang “Try Me” I was hopelessly hooked on soul. A few weeks later, after listening to “James Brown, live at the Apollo Theatre”, I did something really dumb. I climbed up four stories of the Delta Gamma house and painted “Try Me” in 2 ½ foot white letters on the slate roof. The letters stayed there for many years. Few people knew it was my crazy tribute to James Brown, not a sign for sorority rush. My wife Marla, a Delta Gamma, was very unhappy with me when she heard many years later that I was the culprit.

One of our college parties.

“The hardest working man in show-business.”

The Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

After a late night party at school I decided to drive home to the Bay Area for the weekend. In a terrible fog I missed a turn on the levee and hit a tree head-on. I totaled my beautiful red Hillman convertible. The ONLY thing I had in the car for the weekend was my “James Brown, Live at the Apollo Theatre” album. I was very lucky that night! I only had a big scar on my forehead. I still have that album today.

Click on these Youtube links for a taste of one of the true icons of soul!

James Brown, live at the Apollo Theatre, in Harlem 1968.

J.B. singing an electrifying, “Get off that thing”, later in his career.

Michael Jackson and Prince went to school watching James Brown dance.

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