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The Amazing Mr. 'Please, Please, Please' Himself: James Brown

Depending on whom you talked to, it was either the "Teenage Awards Music International" or "Teen Age Music International."

An early precursor to today's youth-centric awards shows, the general idea on that night back in October 1964 was to take teen-oriented music from near and far, throw it all together and see what happened. Rock 'n' roll mixed with R&B, Brits with Americans. In Los Angeles. With a Civic Auditorium full of screaming teens.

What resulted, in this particular instance, was a concert film to end all concert films: the T.A.M.I. Show.

Most of which is pretty pro-forma unless you're a music fan who gets jazzed just getting a gander at early concert footage of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Supremes, the Rolling Stones and James Brown, complete with The Famous Flames in tow. But when giants get together, things are bound to roil under the surface and bubble forth, which is what happened when director Steve Binder cajoled, urged and insisted on having The Rolling Stones play last — also known as "headlining" — over James Brown.

It's what Gen. George Custer would have called a tactical error of the greatest order, and what Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones later said was the biggest mistake of his career. It soon became incontrovertible truth: No one tops James Brown.

Brown hit the stage and whipped out The Cape Routine during the Sturm und Drang of his signature hit, "Please, Please, Please." The Cape Routine was a show device Brown lifted from faith healer and larger-than-life personality Sweet Daddy Grace (as if the name was not a giveaway), and involved him passing out on stage, being helped up by one of the Famous Flames, cape draped over his shoulders, and taking a few steps before breaking free, fighting his way back to the mic, singing a few measures and then dropping to the floor again.

Wash, rinse, repeat. And leave the audience dead and spent.

Sweat flowing freely from under his process hair-do, knees dirty from his falls, and even the outrageousness of the cape itself all sealed the deal, and when Mick Jagger stepped to the mic after this performance, he looked like he needed a cape. And some help off the stage.

You want to know what we mean when we say something is "badass"? This:

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Eugene S. Robinson