As Boston Globe columnist Sullivan points out in this book, Brown's personal life (sexual exploits, spousal abuse, jail time) obscured a public persona that encouraged African-American children not to drop out of school and demanded that his African-American brothers and sisters respect themselves rather than putting themselves down. At the center of the book is Brown's concert at the Boston Garden on the night following Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. Because of rising tensions among African-Americans in the city, Mayor Kevin White's first impulse was to cancel Brown's concert. Yet realizing that ticket holders might be just as angry over a canceled concert as they might be impassioned to riot by a raucous one, he and Brown worked out a deal to allow the concert to go on. Once on stage, Brown opened with his by-then famous "Please, Please, Please," which became that night a rallying cry for his audience to respect themselves and others, just as King had done. Sullivan only briefly traces Brown's rise and fall as a musician from his early days in Edgefield, S.C., to his death in Augusta, Ga., as he recovers a facet of James Brown as a political and racial leader. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of Americaby James Sullivan
In The Hardest Working Man, acclaimed journalist James Sullivan tells the story of James Brown through the prism of this one immortal concert. On the night of the show, Boston - a city with a troubled history of race relations - was teetering on the edge of chaos, with riot police deployed and city officials ready for the worst. James Brown had to grapple with the… See more details below
In The Hardest Working Man, acclaimed journalist James Sullivan tells the story of James Brown through the prism of this one immortal concert. On the night of the show, Boston - a city with a troubled history of race relations - was teetering on the edge of chaos, with riot police deployed and city officials ready for the worst. James Brown had to grapple with the mayor's office to salvage the show. In the end, not only did he take the stage, but the concert was simulcast on local TV, allowing all of Boston to watch Brown. Sullivan explains how Brown found himself in that position, how he rose from dire poverty to become a self-made millionaire and, by the late 1960s, became the most important figure in pop music. Sullivan details Brown's place at the center of black culture - his song, "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" was largely responsible for the adoption of the very word black - and also describes his often complex relationship with the Civil Rights movement. Sullivan delves deeply into Brown's music, exploring how his unique sound led to the birth of funk and how his stirring stage presence forever changed pop performance.
The godfather of soul, Brown died in 2006. This snapshot of his personal and public lives focuses on his concert in Boston following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Sullivan, a contributor to the Boston Globe, also addresses Brown's later years, which included arrests, affairs, domestic violence, and tax evasion.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.50(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.75(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 - 14 Years
Meet the Author
JAMES SULLIVAN was a pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle for seven years, and has also written for The Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Book.
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Billed as the story behind James Brown’s concert in Boston held in the shadow of MLK’s assassination, but “The Hardest Working Man” is more of an overview of Brown’s career and work in the community. While the author does tell the story of the Boston show and does a good job of tying much of the information he presents to the show, it’s clear that the show just didn’t offer enough to write about to fill the entire book. If you’re a big JB fan (or want to learn more about him) this book will be right up your alley.