The moment James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince perform together on stage in 1983
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at the moment three of music’s biggest stars joined together on stage and provide a triumvirate of on-stage talent.
On August 20th, 1983 at the illustrious Beverly Theatre in Hollywood, something unbelievable happened. One of the biggest recording artists in the history of music invited not one, but two more of the world’s best on stage. Yes, we’re taking you back to the moment James Brown invited Michael Jackson and Prince to perform live on stage.
During a James Brown concert, the enigmatic Godfather of funk famed for his ability to hold a stag, called out “Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson” repeatedly. It was beginning to look like Brown was losing his marbles.
However, what many of the audience didn’t realise at the time was that Michael Jackson was actually in the crowd and, moreover, he was responding to the calls of Brown to join him on stage. As the singer beckoned him on to the stage, Jackson was doing his best to heed the call thrashing through the crowd and heading directly for the spotlight.
Jackson dutifully made his way up to the stage, offered a few lines and notes to the crowd, and then used the backing of the band to smash out some classic Jackson moves. Not only the more obvious pops and locks, no, he also showed off the newly finessed moonwalk.
The audience was undoubtedly losing their minds at this point then, out of nowhere, Jackson encouraged Brown to call up Prince and the venue turned into the most densely populated insane asylum for miles around.
While rumour has it that Brown hadn’t heard of Prince at this point—Purple Rain had not yet been released—after’s Jackson’s insistence, Brown invited the young Purple One on stage comforted by MJ’s assurance. It was a smart move that likely aligned the singer with the bright new star.
Prince did not disappoint the gleeful crowd and he arrived on stage via piggy-back and with a smile on his face, ready to dominate, after a little coaxing. Perhaps overawed by the occasion and the calibre of guests he shared the stage with, he avoided the mic and headed straight for his happy place, the guitar.
Before long Prince was stripping off his clothes (to cheers from the audience) and wailing on the guitar, like only Prince can, with his traditional funky fusion swagger. By doing so, Prince was saying more than anyone else on the stage without having to say a word.
As Brown looks on from the background he can see the future of music unfurling before his eyes. Adopting some Brown’s own signature microphone manoeuvres he hypes the crowd into a frenzy before letting the audience envelop him.
This was one of those moments that, for a select few, will always be in their minds. We’re just lucky that somebody filmed it!