James Brown was one of the most influential performers in the 20th Century. Now you can see exclusive footage in a feature –length documentary. Produced by Sir Mick Jagger, ‘Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’ premiers on HBO tonight 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT.
For the first time the Brown Estate opens its archives to reveal unseen footage and photos. The documentary will have elaborate interviews with Jaggar, band members, like the Godmother of Soul, Martha High. The story of Brown’s MC, Danny Ray, draping a cape on him onstage for the first time. Another rare find in the film was when Brown calmed down an outraged audience after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered.
“I think this documentary is a little more personal with him than the film,” says High about ‘Get on Up,’ a biological drama film of Brown’s life released earlier this year. “We knew him very well. When he was upset or when he wasn’t upset, [and] how he made them laugh and joke, and everything. I think that the bio didn’t show that and didn’t tell that.”
One subject discussed is the early friendship with Bobby Byrd after Brown stole clothes in 1962. Brown joined Byrd’s group and transformed them into the James Brown and the Famous Flames. Fans can also follow Brown and his record his breakthrough live album at the Apollo Theater and outshining the Rolling Stones at the T.A.M.I. Show, a Rockumentary in 1964.
Explosive on and off stage, Brown was a father figure for many, including High, who is using her talents on tour with band members, and is preparing for a CD release in 2015.
One lesson she learned from father Brown was overcoming personal issues when it was time to perform. If you perform for just a few people or thousands of people, you perform the same way.
“After a show he called me into the dressing room asking if I was OK,” High says. “He says, ‘well, I need to see a smile when you come on that stage.’ He said whatever was bothering me—[to] leave it in the dressing room. ‘You come on the stage you have a smile on your face.’ And I said “Yes, Sir.”
‘Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’ traces the dynamic and personal life of Brown from musicians, writers, and singers.
“I am very grateful to be asked to do the documentary,” says High.