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L-R, 'Baby' Lloyd Stallworth, Bobby Bennett, Bobby Byrd, and James Brown

The Famous Flames

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame controversy and 2012 induction

In 1986, the first committee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced that James Brown would be one of the Hall of Fame's first charter members to be inducted. However, Brown's former singing group, the Famous Flames, were not included in this induction. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's criterion states that only artists whose first recording had been out for more than 25 years were eligible for induction. Brown's first solo recording did not meet that criterion. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president and chief executive officer Terry Stewart contended that Brown was indeed eligible for induction but as a member of The Famous Flames. Concerning the Hall of Fame's failure to induct The Flames with Brown back in 1986, Stewart went on to say: "There was no legislative intent why they weren't included; somehow they just got overlooked." In 2011, a special committee was set up to correct exclusions which might have occurred during the first two years of Rock Hall inductions (1986 and 1987) due to the impact of the bands' lead singers or front men. The Famous Flames (Byrd, Bennett, Terry and Stallworth) were inducted in April 2012 alongside other "backing groups" such as The Midnighters (Hank Ballard), The Comets (Bill Haley), The Crickets (Buddy Holly), The Blue Caps (Gene Vincent) and The Miracles (Smokey Robinson). Since all these lead singers were actually members of these groups, these were not really "backing groups" at all. This was highlighted by Smokey Robinson, who did the induction honors for all of the groups, including his own Miracles, who stated, "These people do not stand behind you. They stand with you." "These are not backing groups. These are the groups." Bennett, as the Famous Flames' only surviving member, accepted the honor in person in Cleveland on April 14, 2012. Bennett further stated the induction was not only a correction for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committee's mishap in 1986 but also a reunion: "For years, I felt like we were all separated," said Bennett. "I feel like we're whole again, I wish we could all be here as one group. Yes, James Brown was the most famous of the Flames, but we were all Famous Flames." Onstage, during the induction ceremony, Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson, said, "If James Brown was the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, The Famous Flames were the hardest-working group". In 1993, James Brown and The Famous Flames as a group were awarded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award by Foundation co-founder Ruth Brown and Bonnie Raitt. In 1998, Famous Flames founder Bobby Byrd received the Pioneer Award from the same organization. The Famous Flames did appear in the James Brown biopic Get on Up, which was released in U.S. theatres nationwide on August 1, 2014. In May 2012, the oldies music magazine Goldmine inducted James Brown & The Famous Flames into their first class of The Goldmine Hall of Fame.


  • Grammy Hall of Fame:

  • "Live at The Apollo" (King Records, 1963) -James Brown & The Famous Flames* (Inducted 1998

  • "Please Please Please"-James Brown & The Famous Flames (Federal (King) Records, 1956 R&B Single) – Inducted 2001

  • "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" – The Famous Flames (Inducted 2012) James Brown (Inducted 1986)

  • Goldmine magazine Hall of Fame – James Brown & The Famous Flames (Inducted 2012)

  • Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

  • "Live at The Apollo" (1963) – James Brown & The Famous Flames* (Awarded 2003)

  • "United States Library of Congress-National Recording Registry"

  • "Rhythm and Blues Foundation" Lifetime Achievement Award (James Brown & The Famous Flames-1993) 

  • "Rhythm and Blues Foundation" Pioneer Award - (Bobby Byrd alone) - 1998.

  • "National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame" The Famous Flames (Inducted 2020) (James Brown inducted solo in 2013).

  • "Live at The Apollo" (1963) – James Brown & The Famous Flames* (Awarded 2004)

  • "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's"

  • "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll"

  • "Please Please Please" – James Brown & The Famous Flames* (Federal (King) Records, 1956

    • R&B Single (list compiled 2004)

  • Billboard – "Try Me" – James Brown & The Famous Flames

    • #1 R&B, and the Best-Selling R&B Hit Song of 1958.  Incorrectly credited solely to James Brown.*
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