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The Real James Brown I Knew

by Pete Allman, Celebrity Scene News
James Brown in 2005
With all the recent stories about James Brown currently being replayed on CNN specials, Larry King’s show and other networks, this is one reporter who can attest to what James Brown was really like.

First and foremost, James Brown was a true gentleman at all times, to everyone. I never saw Mr. Brown disrespect anyone. One important factor about James Brown is that everyone in his organization would address others as Mr. or Ms. He was a man who was spiritual and would always tell me to read Psalms in the Bible.

Yes, there were times where he was very strict and fined his band members for being late. And, yes, he had some problems in his relationships. But haven’t we all had some disagreements and problems in ours?

I never knew Mr. Brown as a violent person but only as a loving soul. He certainly was a perfectionist when it came to his music, which was his first love; that is, until a son, James Brown Jr., was born to Tomi Rae Hynie and him.

I met Mr. Brown about 16 years ago, and during the latter years, my relationship with Mr. Brown grew increasingly closer. I used to broadcast short segments on BOSS 94.7 in Augusta, Georgia. During that time, Mr. Brown would join me, many times unannounced. I must admit that some of those moments were confusing because I wasn’t quite sure what his thoughts were; sometimes he was in another world. But in the end, I really got to understand his real caring nature.

I remember a period in the earlier years when Mr. Brown was appearing at the Sands in Las Vegas, I met his wife at the time, Adrienne Rodriguez. She was kind. Unfortunately, I never really got to talk to her much because she died of congestive heart failure a short time later following a hospital stay from complications of pneumonia.

Tomi Rae Hynie and James Brown Jr. Then there was a woman named Tomi Rae living in Las Vegas. She auditioned as a background dancer and soon became Mr. Brown’s lady, and he later addressed her before everyone as his wife.

Quite frankly, Tomi Rae seemed to love Mr. Brown, and he would always ask me to look out for her and do as much publicity on her as I could.

“Do what you can to help Tomi, any way you can,” he asked me — and that was in their deepest moments of disagreements. In particular, one of their now highly publicized bouts took place the beginning of 2004 and resulted in a 911 domestic abuse call by Tomi Rae.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Brown filed for an annulment of their marriage on the grounds that she had never divorced a husband, Javed Ahmed from Pakistan, whom she married in Houston, Texas, in 1997. Tomi, however, maintains publicly that she was not actually legally married to Ahmed because of pre-existing marriages he had to other women that were not ended.

Despite the Brown’s spat, they reconciled in April 2004.

This story could go on forever it seems, but at this point, I want to share another point of view about a man who would always uplift individuals, such as myself.

There was never a time when I interviewed Mr. Brown that he wouldn’t thank me, uplift me or promote me in an interview.

Another example was from the earlier years when he appeared at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas where, after the show, Magic Johnson, U2 and other notables would wait for up to 90 minutes to speak to the Godfather of Soul. Even at those types of events, Mr. Brown wanted to make sure I got to interview celebrities like Magic Johnson. Mr. Brown looked out for me.

And over the years there were instances, such as at the Bellagio where I met the renown attorney F. Lee Bailey, when I would interview not only someone notable but would also get to speak with Mr. Brown at the same time. It was certainly an interesting interview, as well as making for good print.

During the early part of our relationship, Mr. Brown would fly me to Augusta for his private Christmas parties, which were all wonderful experiences, especially getting to meet some of his friends, such as Bill Pinckney of the Drifters.

I recall Mr. Brown would always say to me, “How much money ya got in your pocket?” And I would say to him, “Oh, I got a few dollars.” At that point, he would ask “The Judge,” one of his former managers to give me a check for $3,000. It wasn’t anything that I expected; I just wanted to write about Mr. Brown.

His music always inspired me, and I would always remember the words in the song, “(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud.” And I knew that my friend changed the course of the African-American community. It gave African-Americans hope to know who they are and to be proud of who they are.
In closing, the last time I saw Mr. Brown was in 2006 when he was appearing at the House of Blues on the Las Vegas Strip. I was backstage. He walked in. He hugged me and said, “Hello, Brother Pete.” His body guard and I walked out into the casino.

During that time, my friend, Mr. Brown, asked me about my health and recommended that I call his doctor in Atlanta about my prostate. Well, that was it.

He walked out into the casino and walked to the blackjack table. So, I decided to let him play his game of blackjack, and I walked out of the casino. That was the last time I said goodbye to my friend.

Pete Allman with James BrownI now communicate with his daughter, Venetia “Niecy” Brown, who puts on a tribute show to honor her father. She recently performed to a crowd of about 3,000 in Augusta and left them standing, applauding and going crazy. She sounds a lot like her legendary father and moves like him, too, but says she does not use the cape when I asked her about it. The cape stays on the mic stand.

“Nobody puts on the cape,” she said in reverence to her father.

No one could ever match the Godfather of Soul, my friend, Mr. James Brown.