We’re now in mid-December, entering week 15 of the 2010 NFL season, and the excitement of the playoffs are in the air. The Atlanta Falcons, at 11-2, boast the best record in the NFC and have a great opportunity to secure the coveted “dome field” advantage throughout the playoffs. The Falcons last reached the playoffs as a Wild Card team following the 2008 season, when they traveled to Arizona and were soundly defeated by the eventual NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. This season’s Falcons squad seems more mature and disciplined team than 2008, and they are poised for a deep run into the playoffs. Many feel they could make it all the way to that big February game in Dallas. It’s too early for that kind of talk, but with the playoffs looming, it’s time to get Atlanta rockin’!
James Brown, almost as an afterthought, joined forces in 1987 with members of the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, and his own Livin’ In America Band to record “Atlanta Will Be Rockin'”. The story of this record turns out to be much more interesting than I had originally thought it might be. The Falcons finished their 1987 season with a 3-12 record, last place in the NFC West, and had a September 27 game with division rival New Orleans Saints canceled due to an NFL player strike. In all likelihood, nobody was thinking about the playoffs, or even much of a rockin’ Fulton County Stadium once the season was underway. By the time a brief redemption for the Falcons came by drafting “Neon” Deion Sanders (a 2010 Falcons Ring of Honor inductee), who started lighting up Falcons games in 1989, this song was probably well-forgotten and stood no chance of being revived to excite the city about its home team. It could be argued that this is James Browns least-remembered recordings!
“Atlanta Will Be Rockin’” was partially written by Buddy Causey, an Alabama-born singer who lived for 10 years in Atlanta, and had a handful nice blue-eyed soul 45s on the Quinvy and Capitol labels during the 70s. The other songwriter listed is one Jacque Daughtry, the wife of Dean Daughtry, keyboard player of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Jacque was also a former cancer patient, whom James Brown had coincidentally visited some ten years earlier while she was in the hospital receiving treatment as a teenager.
Georgia-born journalist and author Stanley Booth’s 1991 book, Rhythm Oil, details the story of this 45 quite well. The blog-friendly short version is that Daughtry wrote the song and had been planning the song as a charity project with the Atlanta Falcons but, not unlike the Falcons offense driving to the end zone during that era, the project had stalled. Daughtry then thought to contact James Brown, who agreed to sing her song, and a recording session in Augusta followed at Studio South, with Greg Archilla and James Brown producing. Buddy Causey remembered in a recent phone interview that the song was intended to be the theme song for the Atlanta Falcons, even before James Brown was brought into the project. Buddy and Dean Daughtry were friends who wrote a lot of music together, and Dean played from time to time in Buddy’s band at the time, Buddy Causey and the Handsome White Boys. The original rhythm track and vocals with members of the Atlanta Falcons team was recorded at Southern Tracks Studio, downtown Atlanta with Dave Pensado and Dean Daughtry producing the session. The tapes were then taken to Augusta for overdubs of James Brown’s vocals, the arrangement augmented by members of James’ band.
The record received it’s release at the Falcons first home game of the 1987 season, September 20, 1987, with the Georgia Alliance for Children as the beneficiary of proceeds from sales of the record. James Brown and his band performed the song live at halftime, and the Falcons secured one of their only three victories that day, defeating the Washington Redskins, 21-20. Perhaps James Brown should have performed at Fulton County Stadium more often?
Bringing us back up to 2010 and those hopeful playoff games played at the Georgia Dome, I’d like to make a humble suggestion to any executives in the Falcons front office (since I know they all read my blog, ha!). You want to see Atlanta rockin’ in January? Falcons wins will certainly do it, but bringing the Georgia Power Tour (please?) to the Dome for a halftime show will blow the roof off the sucka! [no offense to any Minnesota Vikings fans reading this -ed.]
Since we’re also in the holiday season, please take a moment on December 25th to remember James Brown, who will have died four years ago on that day.
Related post: Fly High Falcons