Please Please Please

Album: Please Please Please (1956)
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Songfacts®:

  • This pleading song was James Brown's first commercial recording; he recorded it at WIBB, a radio station in his hometown of Macon, Georgia. The song has no discernible storyline or hook, just Brown screaming "please" over and over, interspersed with some lines about a girl doing him wrong. It's all feeling, which was Brown's forte. Only Soul Brother #1 could pull it off.
  • Brown built his reputation on performing this song, which he did for two years on the road before manager Clint Brantley shepherded Brown and his group into the studio. It remained his showstopper when he became a star, regularly selling out the Apollo Theater and other venues.
  • This was the song where James Brown would do his cape bit, where after exhausting himself on stage, a functionary on his revue named Danny Ray would place a cape on his shoulders and start to guide him offstage. Brown would summon the strength to continue, throw off the cape, and keep performing. It always brought the house down.
  • This originated in late 1953 as an "outgrowth" of the group's performance of the Orioles' 1952 "Baby Please Don't Go," in which the background singers repeat "Please, please, please" throughout the song. Brown believed the group's future lay in original songs, so he wrote "Please, Please, Please" in the same vein.
  • At first, the record labels were spooked by the rawness of the song and no one would sign Brown. Then King Records A&R man Ralph Bass heard the song in January 1956 and loved it on first listen. He wired owner Syd Nathan about a new act that he wanted to sign to the Federal subsidiary and flew the group to the King studios in Cincinnati to cut a new version of "Please, Please, Please." Bass was promptly fired by Nathan because the boss thought the song was "a piece of s--t." Bass was eventually rehired once the single started selling.
  • The first pressings of the record credited the song to the Famous Flames. Subsequent releases show James Brown and the Famous Flames.
  • When performing this, Brown often does the trick of letting go of the microphone (in the stand), letting it fall but catching it as he goes to his knees. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for all above
  • Johnny Terry and Bobby Byrd, two of the original Flames, explained that they added "Famous" to their name to avoid confusion with a Georgia group called The Flames. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Hal - Atlanta, GA
  • It was Little Richard who came up with the title. He had written the words, "please, please, please" on a napkin that Brown carried with him. The young singer was determined to make a song out of it and recorded it for his first single.

    Little Richard also recommended Brown to his own manager, Clint Brantley, who arranged the demo session that led to James Brown and the Famous Flames' deal with King Records' Federal subsidiary in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 23rd 1956, James Brown and the Famous Flames signed a recording contract with King Records, as a signing bonus they received $200...
    Their first release was the on King Records subsidiary label, Federal Records; it was the classic "Please Please Please", and it would peak at #5 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    For the the next eleven years until 1971 they had fifth seven King/Federal Records make the R&B Singles chart; thirty six of made the Top 10 with ten reaching #1...
    Additionally they had six that would peak at #2...
    'The Godfather of Soul' passed away on Christmas Day of 2006 at the age of 73...
    May he R.I.P.
    * Exactly thirty years later on January 23rd, 1986 James Brown was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame; it was the Hall’s inaugural induction.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 9th 1964, "Please, Please, Please" by James Brown and the Famous Flames entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for a two week stay, peaking at #95...
    It was originally released eight years earlier in 1956; at that it peaked at #5 on Billboard's R&B Singles but did not make the Top 100...
    The record was his debut record on the chart, and was released on the Federal Record label (a subsidiary of King Records)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Brown (1933 - 2006).
  • Jason from Austin, TxClassic James Brown. The great thing about James Brown is that it seems like every time he stepped into the studio, nothing was staged, that raw emotion was the only thing that came out. There is no better soul musician. Who's the boss?
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