The iconic image featured on this t-shirt isn’t just a pretty face (with fabulous glossy hair). It is a snapshot of one of the greatest moments in the Godfather of Soul’s long and eventful career. The picture was taken at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1962, during a live performance that would set James Brown on the path to mainstream acclaim. When the live recording of the show – Live at the Apollo - was released in 1963 it became the breakthrough album that the wildly talented star so desperately deserved.
Flash back to 1962 - and despite being one of the most popular figures on the R&B scene, Brown’s recordings weren’t hitting the sweet spot as much as they ought to have been. With just a couple of hits in the singles charts, he traded primarily on the strength of his live shows and wanted to take the live sound to a wider audience.
Convinced that a live album was the way forward, Brown repeatedly attempted to convince the head of his label, King Records to record and release a concert recording. Based on other artists of the time, the label bosses weren’t so sure that a live album would be a commercial success and they weren’t prepared to take the risk. Frustrated, eventually Brown decided to take his own initiative and bankrolled the recording himself. His gamble paid off. The performance that evening was spell-binding – winning over the Apollo’s notoriously tough crowd. Brown persuaded King to release the recording a few months later and it was a phenomenal success. The record spent an incredible 66 weeks on the Billboard album chart and sold over one million copies. Well and truly setting him on the path to super-stardom and the major-league crossover success that followed. You can check out the full show from the 'Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness' here on YouTube. It still sounds incredible.
Following James Brown’s death in 2006, a public memorial service was held at the Apollo Theater – the place which had helped to set him on the road to stardom all those years before - an iconic venue for an incredible talent, who kept on singing and performing to the end. So you see, this t-shirt is much more than just a portrait of a legend, the picture tells a tale all of its own. Happy birthday JB.
It is exactly 44 years since Pink Floyd released their Dark Side of the Moon album in the US, on 10th March, 1973 and to honour this momentous occasion we’ve decided to make this month Pink Floyd Month here on the Worn Free blog. We’re going to be taking a closer look at some poignant moments in the band’s history and telling the stories behind some of the Pink Floyd t-shirts in our range, starting with this Pink Floyd David Gilmour Cosmos Tee.
Why is Dark Side of the Moon considered such an important album?
An immediate commercial and critical success, DSOTM was the band’s eighth studio album, recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Following it’s release, the album remained on the Billboard chart for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, with an estimated 45 million copies sold, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.
In the Flesh - Milwaukee County Stadium
Fast forward three years. It is June 15th 1977 and Dave Gilmour is performing hits from the Floyd’s latest album release, ‘Animals’ as part of the second leg of the band’s ‘Pink Floyd - In the Flesh’ tour at Milwaukee County Stadium in Wisconsin. On this balmy summers evening he decided to don this rather fetching Cosmos t-shirt. But who are the Cosmos and why was Dave wearing the tee?
Meet the Cosmos
The New York Cosmos (known simply as the Cosmos in 77-78) were a professional team in the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Cosmos were undoubtedly the strongest team in the league with some incredibly famous international stars giving them the competitive edge - including Brazilian forward Pelé and Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia. Pelé and the other international signings really drew the crowds and gave the Cosmos their reputation as the most glamorous team in world football at that time. Their success contributed to the development of soccer across the US. Unfortunately when Pele decided to retire the team went downhill – and so did the league - which folded in 1985. Happily though, the New York Cosmos have recently reformed and since 2013 have been playing in the newly founded second-tier NASL.
A Fickle Fellow
So, why was Dave wearing this shirt and not one supporting an English team? Well, apart from the decidedly funky design, Dave explains that he has fickle tastes when it comes to ‘the beautiful game’ and just follows whoever is up in the league, as Cosmos clearly were at the time:
“I did have season tickets at the [English team] Arsenal for quite a few years. That was around the time they won the double. I'm sort of a really fickle football fan. I watch any team that's doing well and become unfaithful when they're not. But I do have a soft spot for Arsenal.”
So it transpires that the Cosmos shirt was an ideal - and topical – choice of attire for that sultry summers eve. Dave was looking and feeling cool. According to onlookers he even remained unruffled when one of the band’s trademark giant inflatable pigs exploded and caused a small fire onstage.
You can hear the pig explode (and the crowd screaming!) on this fuzzy YouTube bootleg sound recording of the concert at 50:30. Then, like Spinal Tap, the band keep on playing!. A few weeks later on the closing night of the tour in July, things weren’t so calm. The crowd refused to let the band leave the stage and became so rowdy that it prompted Roger Waters to examine the bands changing relationship with their audience. These initial musings inspired the ‘Wall’ project, which subsequently became the band’s next album.