2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Bennett of the Famous Flames passed away on January 18, 2013, at age 74. For 15 years, the Famous Flames provided impassioned vocals and frenetic choreography alongside James Brown, helping to create among "the greatest stage shows of all time," according to former Rock Hall president and CEO Terry Stewart. Bennett – previously Brown's valet – joined the group in 1959, and along with Bobby Byrd, Johnny Terry and "Baby" Lloyd Stallworth, helped form the definitive lineup of the Famous Flames.
The Famous Flames were a vital element in Brown's success, as their electric stage presence made Brown's performances legendary. Before being dubbed the "Godfather of Soul," Brown was a Famous Flame, and it was his years with that group that made him a driving force in the world of soul music. "A lot of people didn't know that James Brown was the same as I was: a Flame," said Bennett in an April 2012 interview with the Rock Hall.
The group is audible on the 1963 classic album Live at the Apollo. Bennett and the other Famous Flames can been seen in footage from The T.A.M.I. Show, the 1964 performance film where Brown was a definite showstopper, proving an impossible act to follow for the Rolling Stones.
On the eve of his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2012, Bennett, then the last surviving member of the Famous Flames, spoke with the Rock Hall during a party at the Museum in Cleveland. "James (Brown) was a Flame. Bobby Byrd was a Flame. Lloyd Stallworth was a Flame. And Bobby Bennett, who's still here, was a Famous Flame also," he said. "We performed all over the world. We performed everywhere. We were the best out there: best dancers, best singers – we were good."
Watch more from that interview in the clip below, including his remembering the who's who of artists who opened for the Famous Flames.