James Brown and Joe Tex; Two powerhouses of R&B Soul Music World, both from the Deep South. James Brown of Macon, Ga. And Joe Tex (real name Joseph Arrington Jr.) from somewhere else, of course, Texas. They were both labelmates in the 1950s at KING Records. Joe Tex had his first hit with “HOLD WHAT YOU’VE GOT” in 1964. One of JB’s early singles, “BABY YOU’RE RIGHT” from 1960 was originally written and released by Joe Tex previously on the ANNA label. James’ version peaked at # 2 R & B / # 49 Pop, while Joe’s version did not make the charts.
A rivalry soon broke out between the two when JB reportedly took Tex’s wife, singer Bea Ford, who can be heard on JB’s single “YOU’VE GOT THE POWER.” Apparently, James wrote a letter to Joe telling him that he could get Bea back. By then, Joe had found a new woman and responded with the 1963 single, “YOU KEEP HER,” which also failed to make the chart. Shortly after the iconic album “LIVE AT THE APOLLO” was released in 1963, James Brown returned to Macon to play a welcome concert at the City Auditorium with Joe Tex.
The “Prince of Soul Clown” (as Joe Tex was known) could imitate whoever he wanted and came out on stage wearing a tattered cape with a hole in it. He fell to his knees and suddenly grabbed him from behind. He said singing “Please, please, please – GET ME OUT OF THIS CAPE!” Here was James Brown’s homecoming concert and Joe Tex was making fun of him. Mind you, James Brown was not in the least amused by his partner’s antics. !
Later that night he learned that Joe went to a club where a band was playing with a young Otis Redding. Entering with a shotgun in hand, Brown began shooting someone across the room. They continued firing and reloading, or else without hitting the other. Several people were shot in the crowd as Joe Tex ran out of the club and hid behind trees and bushes. James ran off and his tour bus pulled out of the parking lot with him behind the wheel. Not long after, someone gave each of the injured customers $ 100 each and everything calmed down.
Joe Tex reportedly had “SOUL BROTHER # 1” painted on his tour bus until James found out and it was removed. Then there was the question of who actually invented the acrobatic microphone tricks that both artists mastered and displayed on stage. Not that it really mattered because they both had different styles and showmanship. There is 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 nothing short of AWESOME!
As much as I enjoyed the dancers too, I thought it distracted me from Joe’s act of soul and mic spin (even looking at it, I still couldn’t believe anyone could move the mic like that). There are also clips on YouTube from a 1968 live concert in Sweden called “THE JOE TEX SHOW”, which features the artist in his prime alongside his touring band. It is available on DVD, but it is a bit difficult to find. Check who downloaded the clips and then ask if they have or know where the DVD can be obtained.
Hopefully Spike Lee will continue to make the JB biopic because I think he’s one of the few directors who could honestly portray an enigma like James Brown. Hopefully it should be a 3 hour epic like the Malcolm X story to get it right. I’ve never been a big fan of Usher, but given his respect and love for the Godfather of Soul and having had previous acting experience, I feel like he could do an amazing job. If Usher doesn’t get this role, find a stranger who has done some theater and looks a bit like Mr. Brown.
The life story of James Brown should be shown on screen for its final installment. Elvis, the Beatles, Ray Charles have all had their life stories on the big screen (the first two movies and TV shows) and it’s time to give this man his due too. I enjoy listening to the “STEVE HARVEY MORNING SHOW” and the “MICHAEL BASDEN SHOW” in the afternoon, but I don’t even play music by these two R&B legends. Musical styles change (disco, rap, etc.) but the roots are old school music that we should never forget.
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 highly likely that the infamous “club shootout” was spot on. It is a miracle that they both survived the incident (?) And reached greater heights in the business. I really shudder to think what direction soul music would have taken without their input. May you both rest in peace.