Documentary Charts The Rise Of James Brown09:55
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The iconic image most Americans have of James Brown is on stage at Harlem's Apollo Theater. Brown drops to his knees after an exhausting show and the stage manager comes out to drape a cape over his shoulders, while he performs his break out song, "Please, Please, Please," and is then escorted off stage.

There's a new HBO documentary called "Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown" about the musician's early life and career, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern.

"I think he had a determination to get on top and stay on top, whatever the cost."

Michael Veal

“I think is what this film is about, it’s about how James Brown changed the culture,” director Alex Gibney told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. “He also had a huge impact in a political way, the way he connected politics with culture in a very powerful way.”

Brown was known as "the hardest working man in show business."

Yale professor Michael Veal said “I think he had a determination to get on top and stay on top, whatever the cost.”

Fred Wesley, trombonist and former music director for the James Brown Band spoke about his determination and passion for music.

“He had no hobbies. He only did music. He only did entertainment. That’s all what he was about,” said Wesley.

Brown's music was one of kind. He took inspiration from the big band era and influenced funk.

“He was one of the main innovators of funk,” Veal said. “His band was his musical instrument, he was out front orchestrating all of the energies and channeling them out into the audience, in a way that has never done before or since.”

Gibney said the film captures James Brown's lasting impact.

“We chose to focus on his impact on the culture, and that was most powerfully felt up until 1974.”

Guests

  • Alex Gibney, director of the documentary "Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown"
  • Michael Veal, musician and professor of ethnomusicology at Yale University.
  • Fred Wesley, trombonist and former music director for the James Brown Band.

This segment aired on October 27, 2014.

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