It has been announced that the street behind Harlem’s Apollo Theater is now officially “James Brown Way.” It’s a good spot. It’s West 126th Street between 7th Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell, Jr Blvd) and 8th Avenue (Frederick Douglass Blvd). It’s where the Apollo’s stage door is located. Politically or no, it’s a great move.
I had the honor of being one of James Brown’s managers in the years before his death. I spent some time with him on West 126th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. I know all about James Brown’s Way.
So, with this announcement by the Emperor Mike of New York, I thought it appropriate to give you some insight to James Brown’s Way as taught to me by The Godfather of Soul along the way:
- Always make sure your hair is done. I know how much that mug shot hurt him. James Brown’s hair was one of his trademarks. He spent hours on it before he went anywhere; whether onto a stage or to the gas station.
- Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed and sharp. As a boy, Mr. Brown was thrown out of school in Augusta, GA for wearing hand-me-downs. As an adult, the man never wore tattered clothes again.
- Refer to everyone as Mister, Miss, Mrs, Ma’am, Sir, Dr, or Rev. In Mr. Brown’s crew, no one ever had a first name.
- Never let a lady go to the restroom alone. According to “The James Brown Way” if your woman was gorgeous enough, someone was always at the restroom waitin’ to take her from you.
- Don’t ever trust the Government… Federal, State, City or Local… who can disagree with this one.
- Stay in school; don’t be a dropout. He started saying this in 1968 and preached it till his death.
- Don’t eat red meat…it’s bad for you. Except for hot dogs and hamburgers.
- Own everything you do or someone will most definitely steal it from you.
- Someone will most definitely steal from you.
- Harlem is the only part of New York City that is above sea-level. When the flood comes, everyone’s gonna wanna be there.
- Always let them see you sweat. The man who put “the wet into sweat” always looked younger at the end of a show. Why? Because he was sweatin’ out the toxins.
If you follow the James Brown Way, life, in the words of the Godfather of Soul himself, will be “as sweet as bear meat!”
Maybe King, Powell, Douglass and Malcolm got Boulevards.
But, in the end, James Brown got his Way.
Howie Greene was born in Brooklyn just in time to watch the Dodgers pack up and move to Los Angeles. Currently involved in real estate, Howie was part of the management team for The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, traveling the world with him. Howie spent 2 years working on cruise ships and has literally “sailed the seven seas.” He’s hosted radio shows in Washington, D.C., New York City, Denver, Los Angeles and Buffalo. And yes, Marty Connor was once his landlord.
Howie will be one of the many colorful voices at The Brooklyn Bugle… coming soon.