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James Brown’s Band Members Wonder Why They Weren’t Consulted for ‘Get On Up’

Get On Up
Jemal Countess, Getty Images

The James Brown biopic ‘Get On Up’ is a hit with critics and has performed respectably at the box office. But how do the events depicted in the film square against the memories of Brown’s former band members?

Saxophonist Maceo Parker and trumpeter Joe Collier, both of whom served lengthy stints in Brown’s crew, shared their thoughts on the film during a recent interview with the New Pittsburgh Courier. Parker essentially summed up the reactions of both men, saying, “It was a movie. What can you say? It had a Hollywood feel to it; therefore it served its role. I must say it was good.”

That being said, neither Parker nor Collier were consulted for the film, and they both seem confused as to the reasons why. “Maybe they were afraid to pay us some type of consulting fee or something. I have no idea. I just know I was never contacted,” shrugged Parker. “It’s not like I can’t be reached.”

While the musicians may have missed out on consulting fees, they insist the audience was deprived of something, too: essential details. “There are just so many nuances that he did that only his musicians would really know about — even down to his shoes. In the movie, I noticed he wore regular shoes. Band members know he typically wore ankle-high dress-boots,” offered Collier, while Parker made it clear that his on-screen counterpart uttered a few phrases that the real Maceo would never repeat: “In reality, I never swore — and still don’t.”

Other key members of Brown’s entourage were eliminated entirely, like Danny Ray, known as the Cape Man for his stock in trade of laying a cape on the physically exhausted Godfather of Soul at the end of his marathon performances. “I’ve been getting asked about that a lot lately, but, it’s nothing I can control,” Ray answered diplomatically when asked about his omission. “I don’t have any regrets about not being in the film — but I do wish they would’ve contacted me for my input.”

Still, whatever its flaws, each of the musicians interviewed stressed one thing: more than anything, they’re glad James Brown’s incredible life was turned into a movie. “Frankly, I’m thrilled about the whole thing. It was a great movie. It gives people a chance to see Mr. Brown as a person,” argued singer Tony Howard. “It was his powerful music that helped make this movie. People were dancing and nodding in their seats. You couldn’t help it. I’d have to give it a 12 out of 10.”

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