Anyone who follows Al Sharpton on Instagram knows he’s in the best shape of his life, thanks in part to the early morning workouts he documents almost daily with self-filmed motivational messages from the gym. If you haven’t seen those, please direct your attention here, here, and here; be consumed by this wonderful wormhole. Today GQ published a bit of aspirational lifestyle content about Sharpton, interviewing the reverend about his exercise plan and very healthy diet, and the conversation includes a delightful tangent about James Brown‘s eating habits. (Sharpton befriended Brown in the ’70s and briefly managed him.) The Godfather of Soul, according to Sharpton, ate a lot of steak, and when James Brown ate steak, he forced you to eat steak, too.
James Brown was a steak man. Loved steaks. He was very autocratic, I would say. He liked to eat at the Stage Deli in New York on 7th Avenue and 53rd. It’s now the Stage Door Deli. Anytime he’d come to New York, we’d go there. When I say he’s autocratic, I mean he would order, and we all had to eat what he ate. He loved Hungarian Goulash in the Stage Deli, he liked hot dogs, and he loved the steaks. If he ordered that, nobody else asked you, “What are you having?” I went all over the world with him—steak, steak, steak.
One day, he told me, “I heard steak is no good,” so he started cutting it out in his later years. But I knew James Brown from ‘73 until he died, and for at least 25 years, he was totally a steak guy.
Sharpton added that James Brown also loved bananas. “I think about him when I have my morning bananas,” he said. “I stayed at his house, which was rare, he didn’t like letting people do that. Very private guy. But he would do his hair every morning, and would sit under the hairdryer and eat a banana.”
When you’re done relishing that image, you can read the full interview here.