top of page

Who Were The Famous Flames?

The Famous Flames were a vocal quartet…not James Brown’s band. The members were James Brown, Bobby Bennett, Bobby Byrd and Lloyd Stallworth with occasional help from Johnny Terry.

 Smokey Robinson, who inducted The Famous Flames into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, including his own Miracles, said, "These people do not stand behind you. They stand with you." "These are not backing groups. These are the groups." and "If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, The Famous Flames were the hardest working group."

James Brown one of the Famous Flames

James Brown


James Joseph Brown was an American singer, dancer, musician, record producer, and bandleader. The central progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th century music, he is often referred to by the honorific nicknames "Godfather of Soul", "Mr. Dynamite", and "Soul Brother No. 1". In a career that lasted more than 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres. Brown was one of the first 10 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural induction in New York on January 23, 1986.

Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia. He first came to national public attention in the mid-1950s as the lead singer of the Famous Flames, a then-only Rhythm and blues vocal group founded by Bobby Byrd. With the hit ballads "Please, Please, Please" and "Try Me", Brown built a reputation as a dynamic live performer with the Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra. His success peaked in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "It's a Man's Man's Man's World".

Bobby Bennett

(1938 - 2013)

Robert J. Bennett, better known as Bobby Bennett, was an American singer, songwriter, choreographer, comedian, and musician, noted for being a member of the vocal group The Famous Flames from 1958 to 1968. During his time in the group, he served as a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, comedian, emcee and dancer in the James Brown Revue. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Famous Flames in 2012.

In 2020, Bobby Bennett was posthumously inducted with the rest of The Famous Flames' members Baby Lloyd StallworthBobby Byrd, and Johnny Terry into the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, some seven years after the induction of Flames lead singer James Brown into the same organization.

In a 2012 interview with Goldmine, the famous Oldies music magazine, Bobby Bennett, the last surviving member of the Famous Flames, when asked how he'd like the group to be remembered, said:

"I want (people) to know one thing,” replied Bennett.  “We were the Famous Flames… James Brown was a Famous Flame, Bobby Byrd was a Famous Flame, Lloyd Stallworth was a Famous Flame and Bobby Bennett was a Famous Flame…wherever we played, we were the Famous Flames. We were never the band, never. We were the 3 guys who danced (and sang) with him and the 3 guys who performed with him at every concert. We were not no 'band'. We were the group that worked hard on stage and did a wonderful performance on stage for the whole public." Bobby's statement about The Famous Flames being a singing group and not "backup musicians" was also confirmed by Flames lead singer James Brown in a 1982 interview on The David Letterman Show.

Bobby Bennett of The Famous Flames
Famous Flames - Bobby Byrd Biog.png

Bobby Byrd

(1934 - 2007)

Bobby Howard Byrd was an American rhythm and blues, soul and funk singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, bandleader and talent dedicated, who played an integral and important part in the development of soul and funk music in association with James Brown.

Byrd began his career in 1952 as member of the gospel group the Gospel Starlighters, who later changed their name to the Avons in 1953 and the Five Royals in 1954, before settling on the name the Flames in 1955 prior to Brown's joining the group; their agent later changed it to The Famous Flames. Byrd was the founder of "The Flames", is credited with the discovery of James Brown, and also claimed responsibility for writing most of James Brown's hits. As group founder, and one of the longest-serving members of the group, Byrd was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame posthumously in 2012 as a member of The Famous Flames . Byrd was also a 1998 recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award,and was inducted into the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame with The Famous Flames in 2020.

'Baby' Lloyd Stallworth

(1941 - 2002)

Lloyd Eugene Stallworth also known as Baby Lloyd, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, choreographer and dancer who was a member of the R&B vocal group The Famous Flames on King Records from 1958 to 1967. Stallworth was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of The Famous Flames.

Stallworth was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1941. In 1957, he was employed by James Brown as his valet and part-time driver. Stallworth's mother arranged the job in order to keep her son 'out of trouble'.

In 1957, when Stallworth was sixteen, James Brown and the Famous Flames was breaking up; Bobby Byrd (founder), Sylvester Keels, NaFloyd Scott, Nash Knox, and Johnny Terry had left because the group's managers, Clint Brantley and Ben Bart, gave James Brown top billing. Over the next few months, several members came and went, including Willie Johnson, Big Bill Hollings, J. W. Archer and Louis Madison. These men, after departing the group, went on to form a San Francisco-based splinter group, The Fabulous Flames. Members of this interim Famous Flames singing group claimed they had left because Brown refused to pay them. Brown said they were asked to leave because of alcohol and drug use while touring. By this time, with the departure of original group leader/founder Bobby Byrd, Brown had taken full control of The Famous Flames. In 1958, Stallworth was recruited as a replacement group member. He was nicknamed Baby Lloyd because he was the youngest member of the group. Bobby Bennett, along with original members Bobby Byrd and Johnny Terry also rejoined, and with James Brown, became the permanent Famous Flames lineup.

The Famous Flames, Baby Lloyd Stallworth, Bobby Bennett & Bobby Byrd
(L - R;  Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett & 'Baby' Lloyd Stallworth
bottom of page