50 Years Ago, James Brown Took an Unlikely Stage: Rikers Island

In front of the room, a stage and foldable seats had been set up for the audience. Before the concert, Caldwood sat and watched Brown practise. As Caldwood put it, Brown “acted like he was on Broadway or something,” and when he criticised the band, “They didn’t say anything, they just did whatever he said.”

Caldwood, on the other hand, was unable to hear a word of the performance. To keep his gaze fixed on the audience, he explained, “I never looked at the act.”. In the end, “I couldn’t afford to relax and ended up missing out on the entire dang thing.”

Brown didn’t cut corners when it came to the Rikers Island concert. “His full band was present, complete with backups and all of that. Christopher Kende, a N.Y.U. law student working as a volunteer for the board, said, “He was giving it 110 percent.”

There were 18 persons on stage that day—musicians and backup vocalists, as well as dancers and even a comedian—according to the tour manager’s records. Kenede recalls how engrossed the detainees were in the show. ‘They had a great time and just grooved to it,’ said I.

There were no incidents with the captives, according to Anne Norman, a dancer in the Brown revue. She described Brown as a “motivator” in a phone interview from her home in New Jersey.

It was all about him, he said, ‘Look at me.’ Take a peek at where I’ve been and where I’m going. If you don’t watch what you do and how you show yourself to the public, you won’t be successful.

Prior to Brown starting “Please Please Please,” the audience was advised that they could either go on to have “a good or awful life” after they left the auditorium. The choice is yours when it comes to exiting the vehicle.”

Brown rewarded Bond and her family with tickets to his Apollo event as a token of gratitude. It’s not clear whether or whether he was paid for the Rikers role.

“I’m not aware of any,” Leeds replied.

Anna Bond was on board. Her mother may have knitted him an Afghan for the concert, but “I don’t think James Brown got paid for this show,” she remarked.