James Brown: See “Get On Up” And Then Watch The T.A.M.I. Show

Author: Bill Dudley

Critics are generally positive about the new biopic ‘Get On Up’ focusing on the interesting and complex life of James Brown.

Chadwick Boseman gives a compelling performance as ‘The King Of Soul’, much like he did in last year’s big hit “42: The Jackie Robinson Story.”

Backed by a strong cast including two top actresses from “The Help,” Viola Davis & Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, also Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd ,and Nelson Ellis (True Blood) as Brown’s main man Bobby Byrd, “Get On Up” is well worth seeing.

In one scene from the film, Boseman re-creates part of James Brown’s phenomenal performance in the T.A.M.I. Show, a little known Rock and Soul concert that took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in October of 1964.

The Teenage Awards Music International (or T.A.M.I Show) was indeed an international mix of then current American music superstars The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean and Lesley Gore, Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s British Invasion acts including Gerry And The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, and some very young R & B talent destined to become stars for decades to come.

Can you imagine a concert with the aforementioned acts? Plus The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, and James Brown? That was the T.A.M.I. Show. It was not the first of it’s kind, but it was the first to be filmed and released to theaters. All 45 songs hit the big screen around Christmas of 1964, and was never to be seen again, until recently.

For it’s 50th anniversary, T.A.M.I. Show director Steve Binder attended a screening recently, and told us the whole story of this pioneering effort.

Mick Jagger said it was a BIG MISTAKE  to close the show after James Brown’s performance. Remember, James was well known to Soul music fans all over the country, and was a seasoned veteran 10 years into his career.

The Rolling Stones had only had two hits at this point, and The Supremes and Marvin Gaye were also just starting to take off. Chuck Berry, The Miracles, The Beach Boys and the others were already established stars at this point.

Having to pick one performance over the others is not hard to do. Smokey Robinson was quite charismatic, as he nailed his early self-penned classic “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. “The Supremes” were charming and perfectly poised as they performed their (then) current hits “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love” and Marvin was well on his way doing his “Hitchhike” to stardom.

Mick Jagger was also just getting his 50 year career started, and did a great job trying to keep the energy going after “James Brown and His Famous Flames,” but James completely stole the show. He was completely “Out Of Sight” and comfortably on the “Night Train” for this show. Truly an outstanding singer, dancer and performer, Brown’s stirring and nearly Shakespearean performances of “Prisoner Of love,” and “Please Please Please” are unmatched in any live performance I have ever seen.

T.A.M.I. Show director Steve Binder also produced former Tonight Show host Steve Allen’s critically acclaimed Jazz show, the “Elvis Presley ’68 Comeback Special,” where he bucked Elvis tyrannical manager Col. Tom Parker, telling him that Elvis’ career was “in the toilet” at that point, Diana Ross’ Central Park concert, which had a torrid thunderstorm tearing thru it at the beginning of the show, and the extremely controversial Petula Clark special where she and Harry Belafonte touched hands.

Binder knew that sponsors, executives and Southern audiences would not approve, so he destroyed all the alternate takes except the one that clearly displayed two beautiful singers, of different races touching during a song. Seems like nothing today, but it is now considered one of the most defining moments in the history of television.

Binder was only 22 when he filmed The T.A.M.I Show, and is clearly a pioneer in his field. “Get On Up” is a good film, but if you want to see the real James Brown, see “The T.A.M.I. Show”. It is now on DVD with commentary from Steve Binder.

Director John Landis actually attended “The T.A’M.I. Show,” as a 13 year old, and is also featured giving commentary on the original trailer. Another highlight of the film is when Jan & Dean (as hosts) come out in firemen’s gear, and a hose, to chill down “James Brown’s Famous Flames.”

As you may have expected,they don’t succeed.


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