James Brown and The Famous Flames hit the studio for the first time today (February 4, 1956), under a deal with King Records.
The first single James Brown and The Famous Flames recorded was titled “Please, Please, Please” which was released on King’s subsidiary label, Federal.
The record almost didn’t see the light of day, since King/Federal owner, Syd Nathan hated the song.
And he might not have been off, since James Brown and The Famous Flames’ first recording was a bit out of step with the sound of R&B on the radio.
Around this time, King which was based in a former ice factory in Cincinnati, was pressing 20 million records a year, based off hits from groups like The Dominoes, The Midnighters, Little Willie John and others.
Despite Syd Nathan’s disdain for the song, it became one of James Brown’s most popular numbers, going to #51 on the R&B charts, and also re-charting once again in 1960.
The song was so popular, during one performance in January 1961, a young woman reportedly jumped off the balcony during a show at The Rockland Palace in New York City.
“We were giving everything we had with ‘Please, Please, Please’ and suddenly this chick became hysterical,” James Brown told Sepia magazine in 1961.
“It seemed as though our music and singing had set her soul on fire,” James Brown claimed.”The Flames and I saw her body sweep away like she was going up in smoke, and the next thing we knew she had swept and swooned herself to the balcony…and leapt over. We didn’t dig that action at all, but I guess The Flames music just set her on fire, that is…musically speaking. Of course we’re glad she pulled through.”
It would be another two years before James Brown landed on the charts again, in 1958 with his single “Try Me.”