The Hardest Working Man in Showbusiness

You asked for, you got it. James Brown’s famed show closer, complete with cape. If they gave an Oscar for Best Musical Stage Acting, this would win hands down. I once met James Brown’s former valet in Libreville, Gabon. He was working for the son of President Omar Bongo. He said it was much easier than carrying James off stage in the cape every night.

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0 Responses to The Hardest Working Man in Showbusiness

  1. Hugo says:

    A-men! I said-uh , a-a-MEN-uh! Yessuh! Yesss LAWD! Uh-HUH! Ow! Got-tuh. Uh-huh. Ahsed I got-TUH! OW!

    What mysterious genius. What single-minded musical—and, as you say, theatrical—vision. Even dead James Brown still does the best James Brown. That drama queen in the Roman collar who “preached” at Obama’s church last Sunday can’t hold a candle to James’s James.

    What a cool story about the valet in Gabon. See? James was so cool he created wonderful weirdness rippling all the way across the globe.

    I still can’t get over the very elaborate and expensive lark of putting Luciano and James on the same stage. And for once the Italian guy wasn’t the Godfather!

    I actually met Mr. Brown, quite by accident. In fact we bumped into one another. He’d recently been released from prison and was wearing this great outfit, a shiny black Eisenhower jacket over a black shirt, with matching trousers and his zippered elevator boots. He also wore some serious bling and one of his heavyweight champ-style gold belts, the kind with the huge trophy buckle. What a trip. I was paying my respects when two hulking Farrakhanian bodymen came through the door quite miffed at what must’ve looked to them like some white guy in a suit button-holing their boss for an autograph or something. They whisked him away. Too bad; he was quite kind. Oddly enough he treated me as though we were old friends, saying that it was good to see me again—that sort of thing.

    I wish he’d been wearing the cape, but he seemed then to have doffed his sorrows once and for all. I’d like to think that’s still true.

    Thanks, Jon.

  2. Dan says:

    Omar Bongo.

    If I ever get around to writing that novel, I’m using that name.

    If I don’t ever get around to writing that novel, I’m assuming that name.

  3. Hugo says:

    “Omar T.”, d’ya think, maybe? “Omar T. Bongo, late of The Congo”?

  4. Jon Taplin says:

    Omar Bongo was (and I think still is) the President of Gabon. He drove around in a gold plated Mercedes Benz 600 and because his mom was a Pygmy, he wore elevator shoes. Its a very long story how I met his son.

  5. Hugo says:

    Old Dan and I, our throats slate dry, our spirits cry out for long story how you met the Son of Omar Bongo.

    –Rider of the Purple

  6. Jon Taplin says:

    I was scouting locations for a movie to be made in the rain forest of Africa by Walt Disney. Needless to say we were welcomed with open arms by the governments of Gabon, Congo and Ivory Coast. We went looking for some pygmies in Gabon with a wonderfully crazy producer for ABC’s “The America Sportsman”, whose sole job seemed to be taking supermodels like Lauren Hutton and Iman to exotic locations to hunt. Go figure? Anyway, we found the pygmies, but they were not in the least interested in Nixon’s idea of using the traditional pygmy elephant hunting technique of running under the elephant with spears while some Super model looked on. (This was in the un eco PC 80’s). So we drove back to Libreville at 70 MPH on a dirt track and went to a party with President Bongo’s son, who was young, English schooled and had an assistant who spoke impeccable American English.

    During the course of the party I asked the assistant if he had gone to school in the States and he told me he was born in Macon Georgia. Turns out he had been on tour with James Brown as his valet and the promoter in Lagos Nigeria had run off with both the box office till but also their passports. The ambitious young valet took letters to every African Embassy saying what had happened and within three hours the Gabonese ambassador showed up at the hotel with their passports and 4 limos that escorted them to the airport and President Bongo’s private 727.

    Once they arrived in Gabon, flush with oil money and moved around in gold plated Mercedes 600’s, the young Valet took a liking to a country where you could be black, rich and run things. When young Bongo, who had introduced James Brown at a free concert for Libreville that Bongo paid for, asked the valet, if he wanted to stay and work for him, the decision was easy.

  7. Hugo says:

    I hate that “LOL” thing, but admittedly this story is so funny that I’m having to wait for the chest-heaves to calm before I can keyboard this.

    Wonderful wierdness, man. Compliments of you and James Brown!

  8. Thomas says:

    Great story. Gabon is quite eccentric…
    The son of Omar Bongo also recorded an album with Fred Wesley and a group of 30 US musicians then accompanied him on tour in West Africa.
    I am listening to the LP right now…
    Here’s a track from that album.
    The son took over presidency (by election) after his father died earlier this year.

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