Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Since I've pretty much failed to acknowledge Halloween on my blog this year, today's Two Forgotten Friday Favorites is of the truly creepy variety: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Brown was a flamboyant British singer who had a 1968 number-one hit in the UK and Canada called Fire. And his performances were a scary thing to behold. As part of his stage persona, he usually painted his face black and white and wore a metal crown which was lit ablaze. His style provided the inspiration for Alice Cooper, KISS, Marilyn Manson, and many other shock rock performers.

Brown's background is fascinating. He actually attended two universities in England studying law and philosophy before gravitating towards music. In the mid-60s he was briefly part of the soul group The Foundations (best known for the hit Baby, Now That I've Found You) before forming his own band, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

Brown's love of setting his costumes and props on fire resulted in several mishaps during his early career. During one show in Windsor, England, his head caught on fire when the methanol fuel used on his helmet crown poured over by accident; two audience members put out the flames with beer before he could be seriously injured. His antics made concert organizers nervous and often got him kicked off of tours (including Jimi Hendrix's) because he lacked the proper fire insurance in case of damage or injury. He was also arrested in Italy for stripping completely naked during one of his shows. 

For a parent in the 60s with a teenage girl, he must have been every mother and father's nightmare...could you imagine if your daughter had a crush on Arthur Brown?

Brown still performs today, but if you dare to see this scary dude in his prime, here's him in 1968 doing what he did best with Fire (which I actually think is a great song.) The way he dances is just c-r-a-z-eeeeee!



I believe Brown was the inspiration for a character Sonny Bono played once on The Love Boat, Deacon Dark:



Brown's other hit was a little less successful; a cover of I Put A Spell On You:

8 comments:

Marlene said...

Can't say I remember this dude, or that song "Fire" ... but I totally laughed at his dancing in the clip!

Amanda By Night said...

YES! As I was reading this, I was all, "This reminds me of Deacon Dark!" Hilarious. My fiance LOVES to sing parts of that Fire song. I had not heard of it until I met him, and then I was a watching a documentary on a horror movie called Just Before Dawn and one of the actors started singing Fire too! I really had no idea of its impact...

Awesomeness x 2! Deacon Dark 4ever! :)

Pam@GoRetro said...

Ha - Amanda, I knew you would appreciate it. I have a baby boomer friend who saw Brown perform here in the States in the late 60s. Didn't realize the impact of the song, but I've heard it before. It's got a great late 60s groove.

Darrin.. said...

Nice! I had all but totally forgot about this cat! Thanks for shaking up the old gray matter!

Doug said...

A bit of interesting trivia:Arthur moved to Austin,Texas for awhile in the 80's and became a carpenter!

Mary O'Grady said...

I think Arthur Brown is still in Austin. For a while, he collaborated with a local psychologist on music therapy: he would write a special song for each patient.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Doug and Mary - thanks for the extra tidbits about Brown's life. It sounds like he's lived an interesting one for sure.

Bobby Trosclair said...

A little late, but I'll add to this - Arthur Brown also has a cameo in the movie "Tommy," as one of the cult priests in Eric Clapton's "Eyesight to the Blind" section - though sadly, you can't hear his vocals on the soundtrack. His very distinctive vocals may have been cut out for legal reasons.

I have a couple of Christmas songs he did when he was living in Austin - lots of fun. I love his voice. Apparently a very nice, very humble man - he's well liked in his home town in England, where he now lives and mentors young rockers.

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