One Hit Wonders With Dead Guys, Volume V: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

This is the fifth installment of a series. Due to the subjective nature of what quantifies a One Hit Wonder, how much of the band must be dead to be a One Hit Wonder With Dead Guys, etc., etc., etc., there will be some shifting of the goal posts across these essays. Such is life and rock ‘n
roll.

Goal Post Shift 1: Arthur Brown is not dead. But, c’mon, FLAMING HELMET.

Arthur Brown was born into his Crazy World June 24, 1944, in Whitby, Yorkshire. His 1968 debut, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, actually made the Top 10, and the single “Fire” reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the States. (The record was produced by Pete Townshend, whom we last ran into with his other Who side project, Thunderclap Newman. 1968 was a fruitful year!)

So Arthur Brown had the look, establishing the horror-kabuki theme that would be co-opted by Alice Cooper and KISS (who are, in my humble opinion, a bunch of disco-sucking hacks in comparison). But he also had a brilliant falsetto and scream, and a tight band (Fire! Horn kicks!) with brilliant organ. You can hear the Arthur Brown sound in heavy metal contemporaries Deep Purple and Uriah Heap. A million records sold and a million points of influence on future progeny. Not bad.

So what became of Arthur Brown? A little of this, a little of that. He formed a band called Kingdom Come in the early ‘70s, put out a few solo records, played The Priest in the film version of The Who’s “Tommy”, moved to Texas and earned a masters in counseling, worked as a painter and carpenter, moved back to the UK and recorded spoken word albums, formed an acoustic band, re-formed Kingdom Come…

And did I mention FLAMING HELMET?

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18 comments
  1. Hmmm… some elaborate costuming there… perhaps some music is left better unseen. haha!

    • Harrr. ;)

  2. Ok…I so didn’t see the jazzy tune coming. Honestly, if your going to wear FIRE on your head you need to stop dancing and give me a voice like Layne Staley. I had to watch it more than once before concluding it’s “scary” but not in a good way.

    • HAH! Correct! But, pretty revolutionary for 1968. No Arthur Brown, no Alice (Cooper or in Chains). ;)

  3. Timely, was listening to a feature on him a week or 2 ago on CBC2 here in Canada.

    • Niiiiice!

  4. Darrin Barschdorf said:

    A friend in Austin told me of this time Arthur Brown and Jimmy Carl Black to paint his house. . . That just seems so strange to me

    • Yeah, that happens all the time, right? I am the God of Hellfire! And I bring you exterior semi-gloss!

  5. Well, that woke me up quite nicely! Brian, I love everything I learned here this week. Thanks!

    • Good Morning!

  6. Yessssssss! Now THAT is a Friday waker-upper.

    • Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!

  7. I kept waiting for you to say the God of Hellfire died in an avalanche while skiing. Glad the guy’s still around.

    • Only Sonny Bono could have pulled that off (and he did!).

  8. WHOA. I love this song. It makes me want to ride around in an AMC Gremlin causing trouble.

    • And that makes me want to ride shotgun on your shenanigan-rides.

  9. Paul said:

    I don’t know if he will set his head on fire but the Crazy World of Arthur Brown are playing at the Half Moon, Putney, August 11th. You can get more information at the Half Moon website: http://www.halfmoon.co.uk. He’s still doing gigs!

    • Awesome!!! Go for all of us stateside, Paul, and thanks!

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