James Brown Productions, Part One

Sep 7, 2018

Credit amoeba.com

In honor of the 75th anniversary of King Records, music historian Brian Powers spoke with a number of folks this summer about their work with James Brown Productions which was based in the King Records building on Brewster Avenue.  From 1965 to 1971, James Brown's company created a new genre of music producing many hit records and was involved in civil rights and the Black Pride movement.  During this hour, which airs on WVXU/WMUB on Saturday, September 8th at 11pm and repeats on Sunday, September 9th at 7pm, you'll hear interviews with Brown's publicity director/tour manager Alan Leeds, his arranger David Matthews, and from musicians Carmon DeLeone and Chuck Sullivan, as well as related music.

Alan Leeds (with the afro) and James Brown in a crowd
Credit prince.org

Alan Leeds lucked into a position with James Brown's team back in the 1960's through his radio career and passion for Brown's music.  Brian Powers spoke with him on June 14, 2018.  He shares his memories of the first time he met James Brown, his journey from publicity director to tour manager, and the staff in the JBP offices.  Leeds also goes into detail about the memorable concert at the Soul Bowl in New Orleans, October, 1970.  Ike & Tina Turner, Isaac Hayes, along with headliner James Brown performed.  Alan Leeds also has a book coming out hopefully in 2019 entitled, "There Was a Time: The Chitlin Circuit, James Brown, & Me."

Credit Alan Leeds archives
Carmon DeLeone, drums; Sam Green, tuba; Mike Dennison, trumpet; Dave Frerichs, timpani in background with the CSO for the James Brown recording session.

Carmon DeLeone, music director for the Cincinnati Ballet for the past 50 years, came into the studio on July 23, 2018, to talk about his recording sessions at King Records.  He also discusses many musicians from CCM and the local music scene who were tapped by arranger David Matthews for recordings including Frank Vincent, Kenny Poole, Frank Brown, Paul Pillar, and Mike Andress.  Some of the recordings he talks about are "Any Day Now," "Bewildered," and one of Marva Whitney's.

Carmon DeLeone with the CSO during a James Brown recording session

Carmon DeLeone's the drummer.  Trumpets (left to right) - Frank Brown, Eugene Blee, Michael Denovcek, Michael Dennison.  Frank Proto, fender bass with his back to the camera.  James Brown's voice wasn't overdubbed, so these recordings were never used.

David Matthews was James Brown's arranger for five years.  Although he lives in Japan, Brian Powers spoke with him by phone April 9, 2018 while on a trip to the United States. During their conversation, Matthews talks about Brown's recording label, People's Records, working with Dee Felice, Beau Dollar, and the group Grodeck Whipperjenny.

Guitarist Chuck Sullivan spoke with Brian Powers about his work at King Records, Bobby Byrd, Beau Dollar, and Lonnie Mack on July 14, 2018.  Sullivan recorded "Hang Ups We Don't Need (The Hungry We Got to Feed)" with Bobby Byrd at King Records.  I found this post by Chuck Sullivan on YouTube: "My name is chuck sullivan and I was one of the guitar players on this record along with dan toler who went on to later play with the all on brothers .beau dollar on drums James brown himself on organ and background vocal."  Sullivan also talks about the Inner Circle and leaving the Beau Dollar band as well as James Brown's advice to him about developing his own guitar style.