Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Live at the Apollo (1963 album)

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Released  May 1963
Length  31:31
Label  Polydor Records
Recorded  October 24, 1962
Release date  May 1963
Live at the Apollo (1963 album) ec3imagesamazoncomimagesPB0001JXQ7O01SCLZ
Venue  Apollo Theater in Harlem
Live at the Apollo (1963)  Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal (1964)
Artists  James Brown, The Famous Flames
Genres  Soul music, Rhythm and blues
Producers  James Brown, Harry Weinger
Similar  James Brown albums, Soul music albums

Live at the Apollo is a live album by James Brown and the Famous Flames, recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and released in 1963. In 2003, the album was ranked number 25 (24 in 2012) on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.


Release and reception

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.

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. 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.'

Brown went on to record several more albums at the Apollo over the course of 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 "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 reissues

Despite its renown 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 listing

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


James Brown & The Famous Flames

  • James Brown – lead vocals
  • Bobby Byrd – baritone/bass vocals (and keyboards on "Lost Someone")
  • Bobby Bennett – first tenor vocals
  • Lloyd Stallworth – second tenor vocals
  • Band

  • Lewis Hamlin – music director, trumpet
  • 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
  • Technical

  • 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
  • Songs

    1I'll Go Crazy3:53
    2Try Me2:14


    Live at the Apollo (1963 album) Wikipedia