Wednesday May, 3 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Publicist: Beverly Jon, 213-375-8818
Missy Renee, Director’s Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographic Manager, Jessica Bush Art MGMT, 213-375- 8818
NEVER BEFORE SEEN PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE FINAL DAYS OF AMERICAN ICON - MR. JAMES BROWN
ATLANTA, May 3rd, 2017 - On this day, what would have been Mr. James Brown’s 84th birthday, filmmaker and photographer David Joseph will release his private never-publicly-seen photographs covering the final days of legendary icon Mr. James Brown. He will also recall the events surrounding his last tour, and Mr. Brown’s unexpected death shortly after. As his official photographer, David Joseph traveled the world with Mr. Brown during his final tour. He also captured the intense atmosphere on the streets of Harlem during the public viewing and funeral of Mr. Brown at the Apollo Theater.
In early 2006 David Joseph connected with Frank “Super Frank” Copisidas, Mr. Brown’s manager in New York City .
“Frank and I had been business associates and friends prior, but we hadn’t spoke in a while,” recalls David Joseph. “He called me out of the blue and we met up in person to catch up, it wasn’t long before we began chatting about working together again. A couple of weeks go by and I get another call from Frank, inviting me down to Atlantic City to see Mr. Brown perform. “Oh, and don’t forget to bring your camera!” he added before hanging up.”
Mr. Brown was notorious for being hard on photographers and was reluctant of the idea of having a personal photographer. But by the time his European tour rolled around in the summer of 2006, Super Frank had convinced Mr. Brown to give David Joseph a chance.
“It all happened so fast. A few months prior I was dead broke, sleeping on my friends floor. Next thing you know, I’m flying on a private jet from Athens, Greece to Russia. Taking photos of Brown playing to sold out crowds in 2000 year old stone amphitheaters. It was a ride right from a film I might have fantasized about.”
After the tour David Joseph returned to New York, where he was also functioning as an associate producer for NPR, WNYC radio. He first heard the news about Mr. James Brown’s passing on Christmas morning from his mother, while visiting Atlanta for the holidays.
“It was early, the sun hadn’t even risen yet. My mom woke me to tell me the news. Not even five minutes later, a call from Super Frank. Before I was able to comprehend what was happening I was on a plane back to New York. I came back and just hit the ground running; no sleep, just pure adrenaline. We had no idea what to expect next.”
Mr. Brown’s solid 14 karat gold coffin arrived five hours late, after the Airline refused to fly it from Atlanta to NYC. As the funeral procession waited on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard, hour after hour ticked by then a communication breakdown that simmered the street level to an intense situation.
Soon it became apparent that the coffin wasn’t arriving any time soon. But that didn’t stop the crowds from pouring in to pay respects.
As the crowds grew larger, so did the tension between civilians and police. Several weeks earlier in Queens, a young black man had been shot by The NYPD after an identity mix up. As the police presence grew the crowd was not afraid to show their contempt. “No Justice, No Peace” began to echo through the masses, mixed with various law enforcement slurs. Just as the tension was about to boil over, the coffin with Mr. Brown’s body finally arrives.
And just as Mr. Brown did that day in Boston, the day MLK was assassinated, America on the verge of tearing itself apart, he brought people together. It was as if he had the same power in death as he had in life.
“See, I like his music. I love some of his music. But after spending time with Mr. Brown, and getting to know more about his life, I saw him as much more than a musician. Because you see, it wasn't just about his music. Mr. Brown knew this. He spoke directly to humanity as a whole. And his message was love. We have got to love each other. Those were his very last words publically spoken.”
At the 2006 UK Hall of Fame Ceremony, Mr. Brown came to the podium and his only words were:
“Look to the right, and tell that person “I love you.” Now look to the the left, and tell that person “I love you” too. We have got to love each other.”
With that he walked off the stage. Shortly after, on December 25, 2006, Mr. James Brown was dead.
In 2014, Super Frank brought David Joseph on as the director for a documentary about this time in Mr. Brown’s career. David Joseph recounts the first day of filming:
“About 3 years ago, Super Frank and I began filming the movie in LA. We had rented this apartment, the one behind that Walgreens across from Amoeba on Sunset. Y’know, by the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I never could recall the building name. I arrived late the night before our first day of shooting. The next morning, Super Frank and I walked out of the apartment and the only star on the Walk of Fame directly in from of our door was that of Mr. James Brown.
Shortly after, Super Frank and I arrived to meet Mrs. Brown at the Sunset Hyatt. Upon walking in the door, “I Feel Good” starts to play in the lobby. Frank and I shared a very emotional glance at one another and I thought: “Well, Mr. Brown...traffic was rough, and now we gotta get to work. I’m so happy you’re here though. I will see you again, I’m sure of it.”
David Joseph currently has set up shop in Atlanta after many years in NYC and California. His focus is directing features, episodic series (such as VERSUS, whose pilot is being shot this fall) commercials, and short films. He still loves to shoot photographs too, when it feels right. His partnerships with Raider Films, Argentum Entertainment, and Full Frame Digital are part of his vision to tell great stories… with any kind of camera.