As if the news of the day -- mortgage meltdowns, bank runs, endless war, and yesterday's big-screen release of "Mamma Mia!" -- wasn't depressing enough, it pained me to read Guy Trebay's piece in today's New York Times about Christie's recent auction of 328 items that once belonged to the Godfather of Soul.
Christie's held the July 17 auction in an effort to raise money to pay down the outstanding bills and taxes owed by James Brown's estate -- an estate over which many heirs and would-be heirs are now battling.
Mr. Trebay's account hammered home the weirdness of the event:
"The most curious lot of the day was not the bracelet, however, or the singer’s platform shoe collection ($15,000) or the paranoid note he once scrawled on loose leaf paper alleging that his record label was out to kill him ($7,000.) It was not the suite of red leather furniture that conjured up images of the recreation room on a mother ship ($40,000.)
It was the single-lot offering of 80 hair rollers, accompanied by spray styling products like Smooth Sheen, Finisheen and Volumax, a Polaroid of Brown with his hair up in curlers, and a variety of picks and combs.
* * * *
After spirited bidding, Lot 242, simply labeled “Hair Supplies,” was hammered down to a private collector for $4,800, plus the auction house’s 25 percent buyer’s premium."
Couldn't the Godfather's estate have figured out a more tasteful way to raise some cash? For example, there has got to be a wealth of old James Brown performance videos out there. I've been trying for years to track down a decent copy of James on the T.A.M.I. Show, but I've had no luck. I realize the JB estate may not own any rights to that particular video, but surely it owns rights to a lot of other great footage. James was too shrewd a businessman to have given all that away.
Until some of those wonderful old JB concerts are released on video, we fans will have to content ourselves with clips like this one:
The Man and his band were just too cool . . . .