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James Brown Versus Joe Tex

James Brown and Joe Tex; Two powerhouses of the R&B Soul Music World, both hailing from the Deep South. James Brown, from Macon, Georgia and Joe Tex (real name Joseph Arrington Jr.) from elsewhere, of course, from Texas. They were both label mates in the 50s on KING records. Joe Tex had his first hit with “HOLD WHAT YOU’VE GOT” in 1964. One of JB’s first singles, “BABY YOU’RE RIGHT” from the 1960s was originally written and released by Joe Tex earlier on the ANNA label. James’ version charted at #2 R&B/#49 Pop while Joe’s version did not hit the charts.

A rivalry quickly erupted between the two when JB allegedly took out singer from Tex’s wife, Bea Ford, who can be heard on JB’s single “YOU’VE GOT THE POWER”. Apparently James wrote Joe a letter telling him he could get Bea back. By then, Joe had found a new wife and responded with the 1963 single, “YOU KEEP HER”, which also failed to chart. Shortly after the release of the historic “LIVE AT THE APOLLO” album in 1963, James Brown returned to Macon to perform a comeback concert at the City Auditorium with Joe Tex.

The “Clown Prince of Soul” (as Joe Tex became known) could impersonate anyone he wanted and walked out on stage wearing a tattered cape with a hole in it. He fell to his knees and suddenly grabbed her back. He said while singing “Please, please, please – GET ME OUT OF THIS CAPE!” Here was James Brown’s comeback concert and Joe Tex was laughing at him. antics!

Later that night, he discovered that Joe had gone to a club where a band featuring a young Otis Redding was performing. Entering with a shotgun in hand, Brown began to exchange gunfire with someone across the room. They kept firing and reloading, one not hitting the other. Several people were shot in the melee as Joe Tex ran outside the club and hid behind trees and bushes. James ran outside and his tour bus pulled out of the parking lot with him driving. Shortly after, someone gave each of the injured customers $100 each and everything calmed down.

Apparently Joe Tex had “SOUL BROTHER #1” painted on his tour bus until James got wind of it and it was taken down. Then there was the question of who really invented the acrobatic microphone tricks that the two performers mastered and exhibited on stage. Not that it really mattered as they both had different styles and showmanship. There’s a clip of Joe Tex performing at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards in 1978 on YouTube. I remember seeing him on TV and his performance was just AWESOME!

Although I enjoyed the dancers too, I thought it distracted from Joe’s soul number swirling around the mic (even seeing it, I still couldn’t believe anyone could actually rock the microphone like THIS). There are also clips on YouTube of a live concert recorded in 1968 in Sweden called “THE JOE TEX SHOW”, featuring the artist in his prime with his touring band. It is available on DVD but a bit hard to find. Check to find out who uploaded the clips, then ask if they have or know where the DVD can be obtained.

I hope Spike Lee still does the JB biopic because I think he’s one of the few directors who could really portray an enigma like James Brown. Hopefully it’s a 3 hour epic like the Malcolm X story to do right. I’ve never been a big fan of Usher, but given his respect and love for the Godfather of Soul and his acting background, I think he could do an amazing job. If Usher doesn’t get the role, pick a stranger who’s done acting and looks a bit like Mr. Brown.

James Brown’s life story is set to be put on screen for its final due. Elvis, The Beatles, Ray Charles, have had their life stories on the big screen (both previous movies and TV shows) and it’s high time to give this man his due too. I like to listen to the “STEVE HARVEY MORNING SHOW” and the “MICHAEL BASDEN SHOW” in the afternoon, but I hardly play any music from these two R&B legends. Musical styles change (disco, rap, etc.) but the roots are old school music that should never be forgotten.

So what is truth and what is fiction? Your guess is as good as mine, but given the volatile nature of the hardest working man in show business, it’s very likely that the infamous “club shootout” was accurate. It’s a miracle that they both survived the incident(?) and reached greater heights in the business. I really shudder to think of the course soul music would have taken without their input. May they both rest in peace.

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