WGBH Openvault

James Brown At The Boston Garden; Remembering James Brown at the Boston Garden, 1968

Part of From the Vault.


WGBH Radio looks back at the historic 1968 James Brown concert at the Boston Garden on the night following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the last minute request by Major Kevin White for WGBH Channel Two to broadcast the event. WGBH radio host Al Davis remembers attending the concert as a a 17 year-old.

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James Brown At The Boston Garden

Remembering James Brown at the Boston Garden, 1968

Program Description

“April 5, 1968. This is the famous James Brown concert that was broadcast on WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts less than 24 hours after the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As violence was breaking out across America, Boston mayor Kevin White was considering canceling all public events, including the James Brown concert. Civil leaders advised White that canceling the concert might trigger a riot. The mayor relented and then persuaded PBS station WGBH to broadcast the event in an effort to keep blacks at home instead of on the street. James Brown soothed the grieving audience by dedicating the show to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and delivered and electrifying performance. Brown introduced the mayor who urged the audience to keep cool. At one point the fans go wild and rush the stage. The police move in to restore order but Brown assures them that he can handle it. James then pleads with the crowd to return to their seats and says this is not how black people should act. A very powerful and emotional performance! Songs include: “Get It Together,” “There Was A Time,” “I Got A Feeling,” “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” “Lost Someone,” “Bewildered,” “When a Man Loves a Women,” “That’s Life,” “Kansas City,” “Soul Man,” “I Got The Feeling,” “Try Me,” “Cold Sweat,” “Maybe The Last Time,” “Please Please Please,” “I Can’t Stand It” and many others!” 1968.

Asset Type

Raw audio

Media Type


Brown, James, 1933-2006
Musical performance
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Atkins, Tom
Riot control
African American musicians
White, Kevin H.
Civil Rights Leaders
African American artists
Entertainment events
Boston Garden (Boston, Mass.)
Performance for a Live Audience
Morash, Russell (Producer)
Atwood, David (Director)
Brown, James (Performer)
Davis, Al (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “James Brown At The Boston Garden; Remembering James Brown at the Boston Garden, 1968,” 01/30/2012, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed November 18, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/A_BFF181590CB4433188CCB871C18BAAF6.
MLA: “James Brown At The Boston Garden; Remembering James Brown at the Boston Garden, 1968.” 01/30/2012. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. November 18, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/A_BFF181590CB4433188CCB871C18BAAF6>.
APA: James Brown At The Boston Garden; Remembering James Brown at the Boston Garden, 1968. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/A_BFF181590CB4433188CCB871C18BAAF6
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