Summary

The Famous Flames were an American rhythm and blues vocal group founded in Toccoa, Georgia, in 1953 by Bobby Byrd. James Brown began his career as a member of The Famous Flames, emerging as the lead singer by the time of their first professional recording, "Please, Please, Please", in 1956.

On hit songs such as "Try Me", "Bewildered", "Think", "I Don't Mind", and "I'll Go Crazy", the Flames' smooth backing harmonies contrasted strikingly with Brown's raw, impassioned delivery, and their synchronized dance steps were a prominent feature of their live shows. Altogether, they performed on 12 songs that reached the Billboard R&B and pop charts, in addition to being featured on numerous albums, including the groundbreaking Live at the Apollo. They appeared in the films T.A.M.I. Show and Ski Party as well as on various television programs. Members of the Flames also contributed as songwriters and choreographers. In 2012 the Flames were retroactively inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside Brown. On their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame page, they are described as "a group of singers, performers and dancers that created the complementary elements of one of the greatest stage shows of all time."

The Famous Flames are sometimes erroneously identified as James Brown's "band", a confusion partly fostered by their record companies' inconsistent labeling credit practices. Although members of the group did play instruments in some of their earliest shows and recordings, by 1959 Brown had hired a touring band and from that point on the Flames contributed primarily as backing vocalists and dancers. The band was billed separately as the James Brown Band, and later as the James Brown Orchestra.