Live at the Apollo (1963 album)

Live at the Apollo is the first live album by James Brown and the Famous Flames, recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and released in 1963.

Live at the Apollo
James Brown-Live at the Apollo (album cover).jpg
Live album by
ReleasedMay 1963
RecordedOctober 24, 1962
VenueApollo Theater in Harlem
LabelKing Records;
(Catalog number: K-826)[2]
ProducerJames Brown (original)
Harry Weinger (Polydor reissues)
James Brown live albums chronology
Live at the Apollo
Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal

The album is included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).[3] In 2000 it was voted number 248 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[4] In 2003, the album was ranked number 25 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[5] maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list.[6] In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 1998, this album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame [7]

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic     [8]
BBC Musicfavorable[9]
Blender     [10]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[11]
Mojo     [12]
Pitchfork Media10/10[13]
Rolling Stone     [15]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [16]
Yahoo! Musicfavorable[17]

Live at the Apollo was recorded on the night of October 24, 1962 at Brown's own expense. Although not credited on the album cover or label, Brown's vocal group, The Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, and Lloyd Stallworth), played an important co-starring role in Live at the Apollo, and are included with Brown by M.C. Fats Gonder in the album's intro. Brown's record label, King Records, originally opposed releasing the album, believing that a live album featuring no new songs would not be profitable. The label finally relented under pressure from Brown and his manager Bud Hobgood.[18]

To King's surprise, Live at the Apollo was an amazingly rapid seller. It spent 66 weeks on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, peaking at #2.[19] Many record stores, especially in the southeast US, found themselves unable to keep up with the demand for the product, eventually ordering several cases at a time. R&B disc jockeys often would play side 1 in its entirety, pausing (usually to insert commercials) only to return to play side 2 in full as well. The side break occurred in the middle of the long track "Lost Someone".


In a retrospective article for Rolling Stone, music critic Robert Christgau said that Brown was a "striking but more conventional performer" in the show than on his contemporary studio recordings and wrote of the album:

Recorded in 1962 and barely half an hour long, it lacks the heft we associate with live albums, relegating major songs to the same eight-title medley as forgettable ones. But not only did it establish Brown as an r&b superstar and a sales force to be reckoned with, it's a time capsule, living testament of a chitlin circuit now defunct. The band is clean as a silk suit, and how the women love this rough singer's tender lover-in-song act. There is no music anywhere quite like the perfectly timed and articulated female fan-screeches that punctuate the 10-minute 'Lost Someone.'[20]

Brown went on to record several more albums at the Apollo throughout his career, including 1968's Live at the Apollo, Vol. II (King), 1971's Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live at the Apollo, Vol. III (Polydor), and Live at the Apollo 1995 (Scotti Bros.).

MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer cited Live at the Apollo as the inspiration to Kick Out the Jams[21] "Our whole thing was based on James Brown. We listened to Live at the Apollo endlessly on acid. We would listen to that in the van in the early days of 8-tracks on the way to the gigs to get us up for the gig. If you played in a band in Detroit in the days before The MC5, everybody did 'Please, Please, Please' and 'I Go Crazy.' These were standards. We modeled The MC5's performance on those records. Everything we did was on a gut level about sweat and energy. It was anti-refinement. That's what we were consciously going for."

CD reissuesEdit

Despite its renowned and historical significance, Live at the Apollo was not reissued on CD until 1990 because the original master recordings had been misplaced and the available copies were not of a high enough quality for a satisfactory CD release. The master tapes were recovered in late 1989. As Harry Weinger writes in the booklet of the reissued Deluxe Edition (featuring remastered sound and several alternate mixes) in 2004: "Finding the primary master, not the readily available copy, became a mission. It was tough to find, since the original LP didn't index individual tracks, meaning its song titles would not be properly listed in a database. The tape vault was 100,000 reels strong, and growing. As JB would say Good gawd. I shared this tale of woe with Phil Schaap, the noted jazz historian. One day, Philip was searching the vault for a Max Roach tape, his hand landed on what he thought was Max's master. Pulling the tape off the shelf, he realized he had instead an anonymous-looking audiotape box that said: 'Second Show James Brown'. It was initialed, in grease pencil, 'GR-CLS-King Records' Gene Redd and Chuck L. Speitz. Phil handed it to me, saying with urgent economy, 'I think you need to hear this."

Track listingEdit

The track listing is as it appears on the 2004 remaster. The original 1962 issue of the album is unindexed.

1."Introduction to James Brown and The Famous Flames" (by Fats Gonder)1:49
2."I'll Go Crazy"2:05
3."Try Me"2:27
5."I Don't Mind"2:28
6."Lost Someone"10:43
7."Medley: Please, Please, Please/You've Got the Power/I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad/I Love You, Yes I Do/Strange Things Happen/Bewildered/Please, Please, Please"6:27
8."Night Train"3:26
2004 Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
9."Think" (Single Mix, Radio Promo Version)2:01
10."Medley: I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad" (Single Mix)2:10
11."Lost Someone" (Single Mix)2:43
12."I'll Go Crazy" (Single Mix)2:18


James Brown & The Famous FlamesEdit


  • Lewis Hamlin – music director, trumpet[22]
  • Hubert Perry – bass
  • Clayton Fillyau – drums
  • Les Buie – guitar, road manager
  • Lucas "Fats" Gonder – organ, MC
  • Clifford MacMillan – tenor saxophone
  • St. Clair Pinckney – tenor saxophone
  • Al "Brisco" Clark – tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
  • William Burgess – alto saxophone
  • Dickie Wells – trombone
  • Roscoe Patrick – trumpet
  • Teddy Washington – trumpet


  • Dan Quest – art and cover (original LP)
  • Hal Neely – liner notes (original sleeve)
  • Tom Nola – location engineer
  • Chuck Seitz – editing, mastering (original LP)
  • Gene Redd – editing (original LP)
  • James Brown – producer


  1. ^ Smith, RJ (March 15, 2012). The One: The Life and Music of James Brown. Penguin Books. p. 119. ISBN 1101561106. ... so staggeringly new it scarcely bore any connection to the music called rhythm and blues. Here was the new soul music.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "A Basic Record Library: The Fifties and Sixties". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved March 16, 2019 – via
  4. ^ Colin Larkin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 112. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  5. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow (Special Collectors Issue). 24 | Live at the Apollo – James Brown. 11 December 2003. ISSN 0035-791X. OCLC 1787396. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  6. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Deming, Mark. "James Brown: Live at the Apollo [LP] > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  9. ^ O'Donnell, David (8 January 2009). "James Brown Live At The Apollo Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Review: Live at the Apollo". Blender. New York. March 2004.
  11. ^ Sandow, Greg (5 April 2002). "James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1963)". Entertainment Weekly. Time (#22). ISSN 1049-0434. OCLC 137343926. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  12. ^ "Live at the Apollo (Vinyl)". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  13. ^ Leone, Dominique (30 March 2004). "James Brown: Live at the Apollo [Expanded Edition]". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  14. ^ Korenkiewicz, Jason (9 June 2004). "James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1962) [Expanded Edition]". PopMatters. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  15. ^ Fields, Gaylord (30 June 2008). "James Brown: Live At The Apollo". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow. ISSN 0035-791X. OCLC 1787396. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  16. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  17. ^ Lozaw, Tristram. "Live At The Apollo, 1962". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  18. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "James Brown > Biography" at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 November 2006.
  19. ^ "Live at the Apollo > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 25, 2007). "The Genius". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  21. ^ Clark, Rick (1 March 2003). "The MC5's Kick Out the Jams". Mix. Archived from the original on 2008-12-27..
  22. ^ "Live at the Apollo - James Brown & His Famous Flames,James Brown - Credits - AllMusic".

Further readingEdit

  • Wolk, Douglas. (2004). Live at the Apollo. New York: Continuum Books.

External linksEdit