Bands I've Seen Live [Part 4]: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

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Ago 10 2006, 1h10

Certainly one of the most memorable spectacles at The 1968 Pop Festival was the performance by the band, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. This was a two-day festival near Miami, Florida, on May 18 and 19, 1968 [though the second day was almost entirely rained out]; and is easily confused with The 1968 Miami Pop Festival, which was in December of that year.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown performed their set in the afternoon, and I saw them from the same great seats from which we'd later see Jimi Hendrix's, Frank Zappa's, and Blue Cheer's daytime sets: As I recall it, we were seated on the bare ground of the horse-racing track at Gulfstream Park in Hialeah Florida; and the stage was on the infield of the track. We were quite close to the stage, and the weather and crowd were beautiful.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was known to us as they had a current "hit" record out at the time, perhaps-it turned out--their only major hit. The song was called Fire; and it exemplified the band's apparent goal: to sound like its name suggested, "crazy." The opening lyric was a screaming--not singing--Arthur Brown:

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE AND I BRING YOU: . . . FIRE!!!

And when Arthur Brown came out on that stage, with the rest of the band already set up and going, we were convinced he was indeed crazy, and that he had indeed come to bring us "FIRE!" He had the most amazing costume on!!

He was dressed as if he were some kind of Dark Knight, a Darth Vadar meets Monty Python & The Holy Grail run amuck. He stood, it seemed, easily at least seven feet tall. He had a robe that stretched from huge shoulders to the floor. And on his head? His entire face and head were covered, as a knight would do, with a metal-looking faceplate that extended up over his face and into the air like a smoke stack, to have jagged edges at the very top like a built-in crown. [We later surmised that the eye holes in the mask were really far above his eyes, and that he was wearing the mask ON his head to create the illusion of height.]

He stode out on the stage and we were just blown away. Then he screamed the he WAS the god of hellfire, and behold: Out of the top of his head, through the crown, the flames shot!! He had some kind of gas burner in there! It reminded me of the kind of device used in hot-air balloons, and it made that kind of noise: the roar of firing, burning gas, in second-long bursts. There was a lot more noise from the crowd than one gets at simple fireworks!

So the visual surpasses the musical in the memory department: But that song was great, and energetically performed and received.

Now, you may wonder if it wasn't hot in that costume. Not to worry, Arthur Brown quickly got rid of it!

He took off the head gear and the robe early into the set, and before we knew it we could see his . . . diaper!

He had a HUGE diaper on, cartoonish in its size. It was a classic cloth diaper and it was held on, I believe, with huge safety pins. I got my best look at it as he climbed the scaffolding supporting the stage lights, microphone in hand, singing and laughing like a madman!

I think it was within a year or so of that gig when I read of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, or maybe it was just Arthur Brown alone, being arrested in Ft. Lauderdale for performing on the balcony of their hotel room on the beach, causing a disturbance. I wondered at the time if perhaps he was climbing on the balcony railing, perhaps in a diaper.

He was best at his trademark: laughing like a happy, madman.

HAHAHHAHAHHAHA!


~If you enjoyed this one, you might like some of my other journals. There are a number of journals about new artist, but I have also written about other live shows I saw as a teenager, such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, Cream, Blue Cheer, and Uriah Heep.

Comentários

  • _juice_

    How I wish I could have been able to see that show too, but nope, I was born too late and to wrong place :/

    Ago 14 2006, 12h54
  • Jim_Lithium

    They don't make 'em like they used to. We need a time machine.

    Set 10 2006, 8h24
  • jaknudsen

    I saw Arthur Brown in Oslo on friday, he seemed as crazy as ever :-) He opened with 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall', his whole head covered in black cloth and sporting a headlamp.

    Set 19 2006, 18h22
  • Crutched

    I like this journal post! >) I wanted to see him live!

    Jun 20 2007, 13h15
  • El-Ejecutor

    Haha, that costume must've been really something :P

    Dez 18 2007, 16h11
  • UncleGropey

    thanks for the journal, maybe i've still got time to see arthur brown someday

    Jan 8 2008, 18h50
  • llynnowens

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm so envious. Hendrix, Zappa, Blue Cheer, and the beautifully crazy Arthur Brown...that's just too much cool for one stage. :)

    Jun 3 2008, 2h56
  • gulmor

    Great journal! Arthur Brown is the king.

    Jun 13 2008, 18h16
  • emergingsynergy

    Thank you all for your kind comments. :)

    Jun 14 2008, 0h16
  • floydian19

    that had to be one for the ages to see all those great bands in one night or day (however long it took to complete the show) what a lucky guy you are to have been able to experience such a show I guess that was one of the benefits of being born in that era for the young people that think the music they play on the radio these days is good well I feel sorry for them it's good that we have people like yourself still around to relive those great events!

    Jul 16 2008, 8h42
  • emergingsynergy

    Thanks again: Yes, I was lucky, among few. But let me remind everyone that the best music of that era, as is the case today, did not get played on the commercial radio. As Elvis Costello & The Attractions sang, "'cause radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools trying to anesthesize the way that you feel!" Kick out the jams! :)

    Jul 16 2008, 16h02
  • emergingsynergy

    I think there's a version of his flaming hat in the video on the song page on last.fm, here.

    Ago 3 2009, 13h28
  • darksungrim777

    How could any modern musician compete with such a display of onstage theatrics. "Gas burner on his head" haha, Don't try this at home kids, at least get mum to help. Cheers for sharing, great journal.

    Set 6 2009, 2h52
  • Chidder

    Great journal. I'm 23 years old but I had seen him in 2009 when he played in Poland. He reunited "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" (though I don't know if there were any original band members beside of Arthur) and perform hell of a show. I've seen many great bands live (Metallica, Nazareth, Iron Maiden etc.) but Arthur just blowed my mind. He did a psychodelic version of Bob Dylan's song, and when he was singing "Fire" he jumped off the stage to us. Security just freaked out :D Great artist, I'm going for his another concert in three weeks. Below is the photo of Arthur performing "Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" from that amazing show (he looks really creepy): http://img715.imageshack.us/i/obraz045f.jpg/

    Jul 30 2010, 12h42
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