James Brown Versus Joe Tex

James Brown and Joe Tex; Two powerhouses of the R&B Soul Music World, both from the deep south. James Brown, from Macon, Ga. and Joe Tex (real name Joseph Arrington Jr.) from where else of course, Texas. They were both labelmates in the 50s on KING records. Joe Tex had his first hit with “HOLD WHAT YOU’VE GOT” in 1964. One of JB’s early singles, 1960’s “BABY YOU’RE RIGHT” 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 didn’t hit the charts.

A rivalry soon erupted between the two when JB reportedly took Tex’s wife singer Bea Ford, who can be heard on the JB single “YOU’VE GOT THE POWER”. Apparently James wrote Joe a letter telling him he could have Bea back. By this time Joe had found a new woman and responded with the 1963 single, “YOU KEEP HER” which didn’t chart either. Not long after the landmark album “LIVE AT THE APOLLO” was released in 1963, James Brown returned to Macon to play a homecoming concert at the City Auditorium with Joe Tex.

The “Clown Prince of Soul” (as Joe Tex was becoming known) could imitate anyone he wanted and came out on the stage with a raggedy cape with a hole in it. He fell to his knees and all of a sudden, grabbed his back. He stated singing ‘Please, Please, Please–GET ME OUT OF THIS CAPE!” Here it was James Brown’s homecoming concert and Joe Tex was making a mockery of him. Mind you, James Brown was not the least amused by his fellow performer’s antics!

Later that night he found out that Joe went to a club where a band featuring a young Otis Redding was performing. Walking in with a shotgun in hand, Brown started exchanging fire with someone across the room. They kept shooting and reloading, either not hitting the other. Several people were shot in the melee while 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 behind the wheel. Not long after, someone gave each of the injured patrons $100 each and the whole thing was quieted down.

Reportedly Joe Tex had “SOUL BROTHER #1” painted on his tour bus until James got wind of it and it was removed. Then there was the question of who really invented the acrobatic microphone tricks that both performers mastered and exhibited on stage. Not that it really mattered because they both had different styles and showmanship. There is a clip of Joe Tex performing on the 20th Annual Grammy Awards in 1978 on YouTube. I remember seeing it on TV and his performance was nothing short of AWESOME!

As much as I enjoyed the dancers also, I thought it distracted from Joe,s mic-twirling, soul act (even seeing it I still couldn’t believe someone could actually rock the mic like THAT). 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 along with his touring band. It’s available on DVD but a little hard to find. Check to find out who downloaded the clips and then ask if they have or know where the dvd can be obtained.

Hopefully Spike Lee will still do the JB biopic because I think he is one of the few directors that could truthfully portray an enigma like James Brown. Hopefully it should be a 3 hour epic like the Malcolm X story to be done right. I have 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 he could do an incredible job. If Usher doesn’t get this role, get an unknown who has done some theater and somewhat resembles Mr. Brown.

James Brown’s life story should be put on the screen for his final due. Elvis, the Beatles, Ray Charles, have had their life stories grace the silver screen (the former two multiple movies and TV shows) and it’s way past time to give this man his due also. I enjoy listening to the “STEVE HARVEY MORNING SHOW” and the “MICHAEL BASDEN SHOW” in the afternoon, but neither hardly play any music by these two R&B legends. Musical styles change (disco, rap, etc.) but the roots are old school music which we should never forget.

So what’s truth and what’s fiction? Your guess is as good as mine but given the volatile nature of the Hardest Working Man In Show Business, it is very likely that the infamous “club shootout” was accurate. It’s a miracle both of them survived the incident(?) and went on to bigger heights in the business. I really shudder to think what course soul music would have taken without their input. May they both rest in peace.