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James Brown Felt Good

Sometimes a bit too good.

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So what was it like being James Brown’s booking agent? New Yorker Jeff Allen, 50, who worked with the late Soul Brother No. 1 for 25 years and is headed to Georgia this week to testify in a court case adjudicating his estate, knows consistency wasn’t Brown’s bag. “You are a fantastic, fine gentleman,” says a 1998 fax Allen received from his client. “You are a clean, fair, intelligent man, and one that I can trust, there’s very few.” Another arrived four days later: “I cannot continue to do business with you.” Why was Brown so unpredictable? Because, Allen says, “he was stoned out of his mind.” The singer’s drug of choice was a concoction of embalming fluid and tobacco he called “gorilla,” Allen says. Ah, memories—like the $15,000 payoff to a woman who was stabbed almost a decade ago in Brown’s room at the Waldorf-Astoria. She’d been hanging out with Brown and his then-wife, Adrienne, when Adrienne decided the other two were flirting, Allen recalls. “So Adrienne picked up a butter knife from one of those room-service trays,” he says, and “stabbed her in the ass, and stabbed her well.” Allen immediately got Brown out of New York via private jet. “When the movie comes out about the real James Brown,” Allen says, “there ain’t gonna be much singing.”

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