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James Brown Camp Responds to Suit

Sexual harassment suit called "extortion" by JB's attorney

May 25, 2000 12:00 AM ET

Battered by a multitude of charges in a lawsuit filed late last week, James Brown's camp has fired back, calling former James Brown Enterprises employee Lisa Agbalaya's wrongful termination and sexual harassment lawsuit "extortion."

"When you get a letter from someone that says either pay me a lot of money or we're going to file a suit against you, it's akin to what kidnappers do," said Brown's attorney Buddy Dallas. "This is a disgruntled employee from the West Coast office. And against his advisors advice Mr. Brown kept that office open three years longer than he should just so those people would have a job."

Among Agbalaya's claims were that the Godfather of Soul said that she was "built like a stallion, just right for riding." Agbalaya also reported that Brown attempted to make her wear a set of zebra-print underwear and give him a massage with oil.

"He's very hurt by this," Dallas said. "It is factually incorrect, and Mr. Brown will be able to prove it. He's old-school in so many ways, but women he respects."

Following an office fire last month that destroyed numerous JB relics, including capes, gold records and master recordings, and the subsequent revelation that a JBE employee (who turned out to be Brown's cousin) was the arsonist, Brown had been knee-deep in bad news. But in a small break from bad news, Dallas told RollingStone.com that a vote passed yesterday to change the name of the Augusta Richmond County Coliseum in the singer's hometown of Augusta, Ga. to the James Brown Civic Arena.

"He just paused and said, 'I am so humbled,'" Dallas says of Brown.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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