For many years, rock and roll fans have chosen to celebrate the life of Elvis Presley not on the King's birthday, but during a week-long celebration on the anniversary of his death. It seems a shame that, just because JAMES BROWN passed on Jesus's birthday, the Hardest Working Man In Show Business should be denied a similar honor. But for those soul-crazed agnostics among us, the Phoenix hereby proposes a new holiday to augment Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa: can we get a witness for James Brown Death Week? We could call it "Funky Christmas" for short. As the great man himself once said, Let's make Christmas mean something this year.
Similar to Elvis Death Week, the ceremonies would include reuinions of the surviving members of James' various bands -- perhaps in performance with CGI-enhanced footage of Soul Brother #1, ripped from concert-film footage. A candle-light vigil at his grave. And instead of "A Renaissance Christmas," WGBH could replay its live broadcast of what has been called THE GREATEST CONCERT IN BOSTON HISTORY, Brown's performance at the old Boston Garden on the night after Martin Luther King was murdered. The concert, and more specifically its broadcast, have traditionally been credited with limiting the violence in Boston's streets during that awful week.
That concert has been on and off the internet for ages, but it's currently available in its entirety -- an hour and 50 minutes or so, including multiple sets by Brown, intermission sets by Marva Whitney and Bobby Byrd, the infamous short speech given by Mayor Kevin White, and a harrowing moment when Brown defused a confrontation between black fans and white police -- on Google Video. Watch it while you can . . .