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Brown was born Arthur Wilton in Yorkshire, England. Bridging the gap between Screaming Jay Hawkins and Alice Cooper, his incendiary hit was a sensation in 1968, but the flames burned out fast, as "Fire" proved to be his only hit.
Brown often performed this song while wearing a flaming hat. He was known for his zany and outrageous stage act, as witnessed by British beat writer Charles Fox on the album notes: "At first-with Arthur Brown being lowered by crane on to the stage - it looked like being just another piece of zaniness. But once Brown began his (not legible) dancing, his face concealed inside a glistening helmet and visor, a saffron robe floating from his shoulders, one became aware of a uniqueness. He belongs to a tradition which goes beyond Music Hall, right back to Mummers' plays. Yet there is a sinister element, too, and one which recalls the smell of seaweed and the rattle of spades and pails. For somehow Arthur Brown contrives to be both the malevolent Punch and-in drag, with grotesque wig and flowered gown-a psychedelic Judy. The effect is disquieting, especially when joined to the singing-fastish blues, and sung exceptionally well, with a voice that can swoop and screech and flutter. So far the Hippies have done little except to opt for smugness instead of hypocrisy. Arthur Brown could easily be the first genuine artist to come out of our local underground. He's disconcerting, even faintly perverse, but distinctly original and very, very English."
Carl Palmer, who went on to join Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, was Brown's drummer. Palmer was 17 at the time and appeared in the video. (thanks, Maeve - Cincinnati, OH)
Vocalist Brown and organist Vincent Crane are the genius behind the band. Their album is a unique insight into actions that lead to a miserable life. All cuts on the album were penned by Brown and/or Crane (they wrote "Fire" together) except for "I Put A Spell On You
" by Screamin Jay Hawkins and "Money" by James Brown.
This song was often attributed to "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" when actually that was the album title. The artist is simply Arthur Brown.
The group's organist, Vincent Crane, who was also a member of Atomic Rooster, also provided the orchestral arrangements.
The album was produced by Kit Lambert and Pete Townshend. Although the group is considered a "one hit wonder," there is a lot more to this album. "Fire" makes more sense when heard as it was meant to be, preceded by "Prelude-Nightmare" and "Fanfare-Fire Poem." (thanks, David - Lubbock, TX, for above 5)
At the famous Mothers Of Invention concert of December 4, 1971 at the Montreux Casino, a guy with a flare gun shot into the ceiling and a fire broke out. When the small fire was first noticed, Mark Vollman the announcer was joking "The fire?... Arthur Brown in person Ladies and Gentlemen!" Later the casino burned down to the ground, an event documented in the song "Smoke On The Water
." (thanks, Eberhard Hasche - Berlin, Germany)
At a concert in Lewes, England on August 25, 2007, Arthur Brown's act went awry when the fire in his flaming hat spread to Brown. He wasn't seriously hurt, but it did disrupt the performance. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Since his debut single "I'm On Fire" in 1975, Dwight has been providing Spinal-Tap moments and misadventure.
Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"
When Dave recorded the first version of the song with his group the Blasters, producer Nick Lowe gave him some life-changing advice.
Mike Watt - "History Lesson, Pt. 2"
Mike Watt of the Minutemen tells the story of the song that became an Indie Rock touchstone. It's also the story of what Mike calls "The Movement."