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Jul 14 17 11:46 AM
Bobby Howard Byrd (August 15, 1934 – September 12, 2007) was an American R&B/soul singer, songwriter, bandleader, talent scout, record producer, and musician, who played an integral and important part in the development of soul and funk music in association with James Brown.
Byrd began his career in 1952 as member of the gospel group the Gospel
Starlighters, who later changed their name to the Avons in 1953 and the
Five Royals in 1954, before settling with the name the Flames in 1955
prior to Brown's joining the group; their agent later changed it to The Famous Flames. Byrd was the actual founder of The Flames and is credited with the discovery of James Brown. As group founder, and one of the longest-serving members of the group, Byrd was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame posthumously in 2012. Byrd was also a 1998 recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award. Byrd helped to inspire the musical aspirations of James Brown, who launched his career with Byrd.
Jul 14 17 11:50 AM
In 1952 Bobby Byrd formed and sang with a gospel group called the
Gospel Starlighters. During a friendly baseball match at a juvenile
prison, he met a young James Brown who was serving time there on robbery charges. Byrd befriended him and arranged for Byrd's family to oversee Brown's parole. This began a personal and professional association that lasted until 1973.
Although Byrd would eventually have over twenty years as a solo
performer, it is his association with Brown for which he is chiefly
remembered. Contrary to belief, the group had already changed its name
to the Flames when Brown asked Byrd for a spot in the group, with Brown
first settling as a drummer. Eventually Brown was driven to perform as
lead singer, as he felt lead vocalists got more attention from women.
Byrd recognized early that Brown was unique and that it would be
impossible to control him: "I didn't need him in competition, I needed
him with me, that's why I worked so hard to get him over to my group." 
In 1956, Clint Brantley signed on as the group's manager. With Johnny
Terry and Nash Knox on board, the group became "The Famous Flames" and
won a deal with Ralph Bass' Federal label, which was a subsidiary of Syd Nathan's King label, in February 1956. Their first record, "Please, Please, Please", which Byrd said he wrote with Johnny Terry, featured a lead vocal by James Brown
and was issued with the billing, "James Brown and the Famous Flames",
which did not go well with the rest of the group. After three sessions,
the original Flames broke up. At the final session Byrd and Brown wrote
the rhythm and blues dancer "Can't Be the Same", which was one of many
collaborations with Brown for which Byrd failed to gain credit.
The Flames without Brown changed their name to Byrd's Drops of Joy.
However, they found little success; when Brown approached them to reform
the Flames they agreed. At this point, The Famous Flames ceased being a
vocal/instrumental group, and became a straight vocal group, since
Brown had begun to employ the old J.C. Davis outfit as his road band.
Original Flames members Bobby Byrd and Johnny Terry returned, and new
Flames members Bobby Bennett and Baby Lloyd Stallworth
were added. Along with Brown, these four men comprised the
longest-lasting lineup of The Famous Flames. Original Flames guitarist
Nafloyd Scott also returned and was added to the band.The rest of the
original Flames faded into obscurity.
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Jul 14 17 12:06 PM
After two years away, Byrd reunited with Brown in 1970. He hired, on the spot and without rehearsal, Bootsy Collins, Bootsy's brother Catfish,
and their band to fill in for Brown's former band after they left him
before a gig. After that performance, Byrd and Brown brought the band to
a studio session where they recorded the seminal funk hit, "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine", which Brown and Byrd co-wrote and shared lead vocals on, though the recording was issued as a James Brown solo recording.
Jul 14 17 2:13 PM
When The Famous Flames were still together, Byrd and Brown co-formed
the production company, Fair Deal, to distribute The Famous Flames'
recordings – and Brown's own solo recordings – to mainstream markets
after years solely on the rhythm and blues circuit. This led to both Byrd and Brown's signing solo deals with Smash Records. In 1964, Byrd recorded his first solo hit, "Baby, Baby, Baby" with Anna King.
A year later he had a bigger R&B hit with "We Are in Love", which
reached #14. Later in the late 1960s, as Byrd and Brown together began
working under the yet-to-be-named genre of funk, Byrd had a hit with "I Need Help (I Can't Do It Alone)", a refrain later repeated in some of Brown's later hits.
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