The Prescription Pad: James Brown, Little Richard On Wheel of Fortune
by Dan Rys
Hey funkateers, welcome back to another week of the Prescription Pad with Dr. Funkendan. I was thinking about a few different ideas for this week’s column, and I was thinking about Rick James a lot (we’ll get into that soon) but, as with any great funk week, something dropped into my lap that I simply couldn’t ignore. I gotta give props to Rolling Stone‘s Jonathan Ringen for tweeting this out to the world, and it has now come to my attention that there was a Wheel of Fortune episode featuring Weird Al, James Brown, and Little Richard, the latter two being on the same team (which, what? why? how? I don’t get it? but it works out in the end). Also, there is a third player, who apparently was a “popular country artist,” but whatever. This clip conveniently leaves him mostly out, probably for the best.
Anyway, this moment of television brilliance kicks off on the brightest note possible: namely, by immediately introducing the artist who has sold over 6 million albums — Weird Al. Weird Al is on this show. I remember taking family road trips when I was nine years old and listening to Alapalooza and Bad Hair Day on my discman, and NOTHING ELSE. That was serious business back then. But what comes next is the best thing that could ever happen: James Brown’s purple suit teamed up with Little Richard’s abnormally large head, for one superfunkalicious dream team of greatness. Super legends indeed. Just take a look at those introductions! James immediately giving the people the moves they want, while Little Richard just… oozes… leopard skin? Of course he does. Related: Little Richard’s head is LARGER THAN JAMES BROWN’S TORSO.
Let’s do a quick rundown of things worth pointing out in this five minute clip. Shall we? I think it’s a must.
1. When Little Richard spins, James is so happy.
2. JB kicks it off with the letter R. I feel this is important, in some way.
3. Little Richard might be on crack. Not saying definitively one way or the other, but he can’t physically close his eyes.
4. Can you think of any other situation where Weird Al would be standing next to James Brown? Anything? Anything at all? In related news, Little Richard is just saying random letters now.
5. James Brown wants everyone to know he’s from Augusta, and NOT Carolina. Talking about their pasts make James Brown and Little Richard seem the most normal, at least. It’s a stretch, but MOST normal.
6. JAMES BROWN, LITTLE RICHARD, OTIS REDDING. JESUS CHRIST.
7. It’s three minutes in, and Little Richard still hasn’t blinked.
8. Little Richard donating to the pediatric aids foundation… James Brown said something like, “Community Action, dealing with everything basically, but I like to think it’ll be with the older people…”??? Not sure how to take that one, JB???
9. Little Richard might be a mannequin.
10. HOW DOES THAT COUNTRY SINGER NOT KNOW IT’S BILLIE HOLIDAY.
11. James Brown: “I gotta spin”
12. The end contains the most important part in the entire clip, after James Brown gets the answer right and Little Richard — either unable to continue standing, or just bent over in relief that they got it right — begins hugging Brown’s arm oddly. Little Richard: “Thank god. Thank god. Thank god, thank James for being from that old school!
***DEVIL STARE AT THE CAMERA***
***DEVIL STARE AT THE CROWD***”
Wow. That five minutes is perhaps among the most treasured television clips ever to be memorialized on YouTube. I just want to say, however, with one final question:
What the hell happened to Little Richard?