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Brown, James

James Brown

1933-2006

Singer, songwriter, keyboardist

If a famous person's nicknames tell a lot about them, James Brown's nicknames must say a mouthful. He was known at one time as Soul Brother Number One, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Mr. Dynamite, and Mr. Sex Machine and went on to be named the Godfather of Soul. But then there is plenty to know about James Brown. He had the highest number of singles to reach the top 20, and the second-highest number of singles to reach the top 100 after Elvis Presley; he reinvented soul music at least twice; and it is impossible to know what soul music, funk, disco, or rap would sound like if not for his musical influence. He also attracted his share of both admirers and detractors among blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, as a political figure. Moreover, Brown made an impact on American culture, black and otherwise, that few others could equal.

Overcame Early Obstacles to Success

James Joe Brown, Jr., was born on May 3, 1933, although various other dates have been ascribed to him over the years, near Barnwell, South Carolina, and

Augusta, Georgia. He was stillborn in his family's one-room shack, and the family had given him up for dead, but he was resuscitated by his great-aunt Minnie. His father, Joe Brown, worked the area to get sap from trees, which he sold to turpentine manufacturers. The four of them lived in the area until James's mother, Susan (Behlings) Brown, left when James was four years old. In his 1986 autobiography, James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Brown expressed his regret at not being raised by both his parents.

When Brown was six, Joe moved him and his aunt to Augusta in a search for more work. They moved in with another aunt, Honey, who ran a bordello on U.S. Highway 1. It was, to say the least, an unusual environment for a young child to grow up in, as Brown wrote in his autobiography, reprinted in Current Biography: "I guess I saw and heard just about everything in the world in that house, when the soldiers were there with the women." The family did not have much money, and James was embarrassed that he had to attend school in ragged clothes. One day Joe brought home an old pump organ, though, and James discovered that he had a natural knack for playing music. Until he could begin his career, however, young Brown shined shoes, picked cotton and peanuts, and delivered groceries to earn money.

Brown found many diversions to pique his interest during childhood. Music was one, and he learned to play the drums, piano, guitar, and to sing gospel. He also particularly enjoyed the jump blues music played by Louis Jordan and was impressed by circuses and traveling minstrel shows, the something-for-everybody philosophy of which later helped inspire his James Brown Revue. He found some early success as a boxer, using his left-handed style to confuse his young opponents. An unfortunate diversion ended his childhood freedom prematurely at age 15. To get money to buy decent clothes for school, Brown sometimes stole objects from unlocked cars. He was caught and received a sentence of eight to 16 years at the Georgia Juvenile Training Institute.

Developed Signature Sound

While in jail Brown got a leg up on his music career, forming a gospel quartet which included Johnny Terry, who would later become an original member of Brown's Famous Flames vocal group. Brown impressed the warden with his commitment to gospel music while in the facility, and when he received a promise of a job upon his release, he was paroled in 1952 after serving only three years of his sentence. Immediately upon his release Brown formed a gospel group with Terry and Bobby Byrd called The 3 Swanees. The group soon moved to Macon, Georgia—which Little Richard and The Five Royals had made into a bit of a local music mecca—began playing more rhythm and blues-oriented material and changed its name to the Flames.

Once in Macon the group hired as its manager Clint Brantly, Little Richard's manager, and he convinced the Flames to add the "Famous" adjective to their name. Early in 1956 the group cut a record, "Please, Please, Please," for King records, which released it on its Federal subsidiary. The song became a hit, peaking at number six on the rhythm and blues charts, and Brown's career was underway. The name of the group was soon changed to James Brown and the Famous Flames, although at the time Brown had yet to refine any of the distinctive styles which would later make him a legend. "Please, Please, Please," and its follow-up hit, "Try Me," from 1958, were fairly ordinary rhythm and blues songs which could have been recorded by any number of artists at the time. More distinctive during the 1950s was Brown's live act, which included a 20-piece band, four warm-up soloists, two vocal groups, a comedian and a troupe of dancers. As for Brown himself, he put forth an energy in his performances which was second to none and exceeded most. As Rolling Stone Bill Wyman would later tell Rolling Stone magazine: "You could put Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on one side of the stage and James Brown on the other, and you wouldn't even notice the others were up there!"

In the early 1960s, Brown found his trademark sound with such hits as "I'll Go Crazy," and "Think." The characteristics of the James Brown "sound" were staccato horn bursts, a scratchy guitar, and a prominent bass guitar, all coming together to provide a kind of rhythmic excitement which contrasted sharply with the era's more traditional musical tools of verse-chorus-verse song construction and melody. It began a string of hits that would be the greatest of Brown's career, running until the end of the decade.

At a Glance …

Born James Joe Brown Jr. on May 3, 1933, near Barnwell, South Carolina, and Augusta, GA; died on December 25, 2006, in Atlanta, GA; son of Joe Brown, a turpentine worker, and Susan Behlings; married Velma Warren 1953 (divorced 1969); Deidre Jenkins 1970 (divorced 1981), Adrienne Lois Rodriguez 1984 (died 1996); and Tomi Rae Hynie, 2001; children: six.

Career:

Recording and performing artist, mid-1950s-2006.

Awards:

44 Gold Records; Grammy Awards, 1965, 1986; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, charter member, 1986; Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, 1992; Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award, 1993.

Brown felt he faced a problem in 1962, however. Although he had a string of hits on the rhythm and blues charts, including "Baby, You're Right," and "Lost Someone," both of which peaked at number two, and his singles had also fared respectably on the pop charts, he felt his best work was being done in concert. The energy and excitement of his live performances were not coming through on his records. Brown was convinced that in order to communicate his style to the record-buying public he needed to record a live album, an unusual step in rock music at that time and one King found expensive and impractical. Brown decided to take matters into his own hands, rented the Apollo Theater in Harlem, miked the band and the audience, produced the album himself and even put the theater's ushers in tuxedos, all of which cost him $5,700. The gamble paid off, as the album, recorded in November 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, became a huge phenomenon which is to this day regarded as one of the finest live rock and roll albums ever recorded. Brown's stage style found him segueing imme- diately from one song to another, a practice which would ordinarily cause problems for radio stations wanting to cue up a single song. It did not matter in the end, as black radio stations took the then-unheard-of step of playing the record a side at a time, as if the two sides were 20-minute songs.

Brown's sound was now known to the public, and his tireless touring schedule, which included as many as 350 dates in a year (hence the nickname, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business), began to draw even larger audiences. Brown's dancing also became legendary: His trademark move was to grab the microphone stand, slide down into the splits, pop back up out of them and erupt into a pirouette, a move few other mortals dared attempt for fear of any number of injuries. During the mid-1960s Brown hit upon another bit of on-stage mania which became his show-stopping, show-closing trademark for several years, in which he would sing the song "Please, Please, Please," until collapsing in mock anguish and exhaustion in a heap on stage, whereupon his backup singers would drape his lifeless form with a cape, help him to his feet, and lead him toward the wings, only to have him throw the cape off, return to front-stage center, resume the song and start the whole process over again. The act was a great crowd-pleaser wherever Brown performed.

Troubles with Famous Flames Lead to Funk

While Brown's stage show was a hit with audiences everywhere, the members of his backing group differed among themselves on his qualities as a boss. While some of his band members, such as Terry and Byrd, stayed with him for many years, many found his leadership style tyrannical and unbearably egotistical. Brown levied fines for a number of offenses he found intolerable, including lateness, wrinkled uniforms, scuffed shoes, and even missed steps and notes on stage. Other accusations which band members have accused Brown of over the years included denying writing credits and record royalties, leaving musicians stranded on the road, threatening them with guns, stealing their girlfriends, and exhibiting erratic behavior due to drug abuse.

Brown kept the Flames together through 1970, though, and the group had some huge hit records, including "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag—Part 1," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," "Cold Sweat—Part 1," "I Got the Feelin'," "Say It Loud—I'm Black and I'm Proud—Part 1," "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose," and "Mother Popcorn— Part 1," all of which reached Number One on the rhythm and blues charts and most of which reached the top ten on the pop charts. Brown also became a fairly prominent voice in the black community during the most crucial days of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, appearing on television to help quell riots in the streets of Boston and Washington, D.C. after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and was once recruited by H. Rap Brown to assist with his Black Power movement. Many blacks did not approve of Brown's public appearances with politicians such as Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon—whom Brown endorsed for president—and one of the ironies of Brown's career in this era was that he was simultaneously distrusted by both whites (for songs such as "Say It Loud—I'm Black and I'm Proud," which some found uncomfortably militant), and blacks (for endorsing Nixon, disavowing violence and proclaiming himself a Republican).

During the late 1960s the Famous Flames underwent numerous personnel changes as the fallout from Brown's tough discipline found members leaving the band more frequently. Brown finally decided to disband the group, and in 1971 his new group, the JBs, made its debut with a song called "Hot Pants." The new band had a sound markedly different from the old band, a sound that would come to be called funk. It was a sound he had been gradually moving toward over the late 1960s, but with the JBs the style was realized in full. In his autobiography Brown explained, "I had discovered that my strength was not in the horns, it was in the rhythm. I was hearing everything, even the guitars, like they were drums. I had found out how to make it happen." The JBs would go on to have about five more years' worth of hits before the disco era began to see their popularity wane.

During this period, however, Brown's music began to feel the scorn of rock critics, who called it repetitive and monotonous. A typical Brown album of this period would feature a handful of songs, each consisting of a single riff which would be sustained for several minutes, while Brown spoke his mind about any number of topics over top of the music. Robert Palmer, writing in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, was one who argued against this verdict. "Attacking him for being repetitive is like attacking Africans for being overly fond of drumming," he wrote.

Experienced Personal and Professional Difficulties

Things in Brown's personal life began to take a turn for the worse in the mid 1970s. In 1973 his son, Teddy, was killed in an auto accident, and Bobby Byrd quit the band to pursue a solo career. Also that year, the Internal Revenue Service stepped up its attempts to collect back taxes from Brown. In 1968 the IRS claimed he owed nearly $2 million; now they added another $4.5 million to the tab. A few years later his second wife Deirdre left him (his first marriage, to the former Velma Warren, fell apart in 1968). All the while his relationship with his record company since 1971, Polydor, steadily deteriorated, as Brown felt the label did not understand his music or his market.

Brown had built himself a formidable business empire over the first two decades of his career. He had a large house, a fleet of cars, several radio stations (including one in Augusta in front of which he had shined shoes as a youngster), a booking agency, 17 publishing companies, a record label, a production company and a Lear jet. But with his tax problems mounting, the government began taking bites out of his empire. The radio stations, which were also having union problems, became the target of a government investigation, and the government also took possession of many of Brown's properties, including his jet and his home. In 1978 he was arrested on stage at the Apollo for defying a government order not to leave the country during the investigation of the radio stations.

The late 1970s and early 1980s were a sort of rebuilding period for Brown's career. He severed his ties with Polydor, hired well-known lawyer William Kunstler to handle his legal affairs, renewed his religious faith, and hit the rock club circuit around New York. He also found a vehicle for his music on celluloid, appearing in The Blues Brothers and Doctor Detroit, and singing the theme song for Rocky IV, "Living in America." That song hit number four on the pop charts in 1985, his first top ten pop hit in 17 years.

In 1984 Brown embarked on a union that dramatically shaped the next decade of his life when he married Adrienne Modell Rodriguez, a hairstylist on the syndicated music television program "Solid Gold." The pair would go on to have a stormy relationship, as Brown had with many of the women in his life. At one time Adrienne appeared beaten and bruised in the National Enquirer, allegedly from a Brown beating; she would later claim it was a publicity stunt, but beating women was an activity Brown had already garnered a reputation for in the past. Drug use, particularly PCP, was also reportedly a major factor in the marriage, although both parties would vociferously deny it. On a happier note during this decade, Brown became a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at induction ceremonies in 1986. "That night, while I was being inducted," he recalled in Current Biography, "I think I felt for the first time that the struggle was over."

Brown, though, sank deeper and deeper into his drug use until, according to an April 1989 article in Rolling Stone, his band members feared he would die. His rendezvous with rock bottom began October 24, 1988. There has been some disagreement about exactly what happened that day, but this much seems to have been confirmed: Brown, high on PCP, burst into an insurance seminar in the building next to his office in Augusta. He carried a shotgun that did not work and complained that people from the seminar had been using his private bathroom. The police were called, and Brown fled in his truck. The police chased him into South Carolina, shooting out his tires. Brown circled back, and the police chased him back to Augusta, before he drove the truck into a ditch. Police claimed that Brown was incoherent and attempted to sing and dance while being given a sobriety test, but he was later acquitted of driving under the influence of PCP. Brown claimed that he had actually pulled over at one point during the chase, but police had riddled his truck with bullets, and he drove off on the rims in fear for his life when they stopped to reload. He claimed his truck had 23 bullet holes when the incident was over. At any rate, Brown was released on bail, and the very next day was again pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of PCP.

The legal trial that followed the police chase was a source of almost as much disagreement as the chase itself. Apparently, the judge and Brown's lawyer advised him to plead guilty and accept a 90-day jail term, but Brown insisted upon his innocence and went through with the trial. He was convicted of aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police car with its blue lights on, and received concurrent six-year sentences from Georgia and South Carolina. Some, including Brown, have claimed that racial bias had much to do with the severity of the sentences.

Experienced Career Resurgence

Brown's time in prison was a very bad time for him in some ways, very good in others. He was shocked to discover that many of the young black inmates at the prison had no idea who he was, and was disappointed that some of his powerful friends did not attempt to gain his release or even visit him. Having had several friends in presidential administrations, Brown did not think he would do much time of his six-year sentence, but it took about two years for him to finally be paroled. However, Brown heard much of his own music in prison, although it took some doing to convince his fellow inmates that it was his music. He heard it in the samples on the rap and hip-hop records the prisoners listened to. Brown did not like his music being used on so many records he did not approve of, but hearing how much his music was being used—he is universally acknowledged as the most-sampled performer of all time—renewed his determination that his music was still as immediate and fresh as ever and convinced him his career would take off again upon his release.

Indeed, Brown's career did experience a resurgence upon his release. There were several factors as to why James Brown was so "hot" upon his release from prison. One was certainly the publicity he had received for his legal troubles. Another was the popularity of hip-hop and the obvious lineage leading back to Brown's music. Another was that Brown's music was known by the white community more than ever before, as in his heyday his American audience was almost exclusively black. Also, Brown's music had undergone a sort of critical reappraisal in the late 1980s, as rock writers reconsidered the criticisms they had made in the 1970s and concluded that his music had been ground-breaking and extremely influential, after all. Yet another reason was the release of Star Time!, the boxed set retrospective of Brown's career, and Love Over-Due, his new studio album, both of which were released in 1991. Amazingly, considering the decade-long slump that preceded his incarceration, James Brown had come back as hot as ever.

Tragedy struck Brown's life again in 1996, however, when Adrienne died from taking PCP while using prescription medicine. She also had a bad heart and was weak from having undergone liposuction surgery. But it was clear that Adrienne's death would not prevent Brown from doing what tax problems, imprisonment, controversy, and even disco already had failed to prevent him from doing: performing. Brown maintained a rigorous touring schedule over the next decade, and eventually remarried.

While on tour in 2006, Brown was diagnosed with pneumonia on December 23. The illness brought his musical career to a stop; he was hospitalized and died of heart failure on Christmas Day. Augustus, Georgia, honored him with a seven-foot-tall bronze statue. As in life, Brown experienced controversy in death. A legal battle over his estate ensued, delaying his burial and the construction of a Graceland-like mausoleum in his honor. Yet it is Brown's "music that really matters," wrote Michael Kohlenberger of Take Pride! Community Magazine, adding "The music is what makes the man and what makes the legend." As the 1992 edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide said, "James Brown may never have captured the zeitgeist as Elvis Presley or the Beatles did, nor can he be said to have dominated the charts like Stevie Wonder or the Rolling Stones, but by any real measure of musical greatness—endurance, originality, versatility, breadth of influence—he towers over them all."

Selected works

Albums

Please, Please, Please, King, 1959.

Thing, King, 1960.

James Brown Presents His Band, King, 1961.

Excitement Mr. Dynamite, King, 1962.

Live at the Apollo, King, 1963.

Prisoner of Love, King, 1963.

Pure Dynamite! King, 1964.

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, King, 1965.

I Got You (I Feel Good), King, 1966.

Mighty Instrumentals, Smash, 1966.

James Brown Plays New Breed (The Boo-Ga-Loo), Smash, 1966.

It's a Man's Man's Man's World, King, 1966.

Handful of Soul, Smash, 1966.

James Brown Sings Raw Soul, King, 1967.

James Brown Plays the Real Thing, Smash, 1967.

Live at the Garden, King, 1967.

Cold Sweat, King, 1967.

I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me), King 1968.

I Got the Feelin', King, 1968.

James Brown Plays Nothing But Soul, King, 1968.

Live at the Apollo, Vol., II, 1968.

Thinking About Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things, King, 1968.

Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud, King, 1969.

The Popcorn, King, 1969.

It's a Mother, King, 1969.

It's a New Day—Let a Man Come In, King, 1970.

Sex Machine, King, 1970.

Super Bad, King, 1971.

Hot Pants, Polydor, 1971.

Revolution of the Mind (Live at the Apollo Theater, Vol. III), Polydor, 1971.

There It Is, Polydor, 1972.

Get on the Good Foot, Polydor, 1972.

The Payback, Polydor, 1974.

Hell, Polydor, 1974.

Hot, Polydor, 1976.

Get Up Offa That Thing, Polydor, 1976.

Solid Gold, Polydor UK, 1977.

Take a Look at Those Cakes, Polydor, 1979.

The Original Disco Man, Polydor, 1979.

People, Polydor, 1980.

Hot on the One, Polydor, 1980.

Soul Syndrome, Polydor, 1980.

Nonstop! Polydor, 1981.

Bring It On! Churchill/Augusta, 1983.

The Federal Years, Part One, Solid Smoke, 1984.

The Federal Years, Part Two, Solid Smoke, 1984.

Ain't That a Groove, Polydor, 1984.

Doing It to Death, Polydor, 1984.

The CD of JB (Sex Machine and Other Soul Classics), Polydor, 1985.

Gravity, Scotti Bros., 1986.

James Brown's Funky People, Polydor, 1986.

In the Jungle Groove, Polydor, 1986.

The CD of JB II (Cold Sweat and Other Soul Classics), Polydor, 1987.

I'm Real, Scotti Bros., 1988.

James Brown's Funky People (Part 2), Polydor, 1988.

Motherlode, Polydor, 1988.

Soul Session Live, Scotti Bros., 1989.

Roots of a Revolution, Polydor, 1989.

Messing With the Blues, Polydor, 1990.

Star Time, Polydor, 1991.

Love Over-Due, Scotti Bros., 1991.

20 All-Time Greatest Hits, Polydor, 1991.

The Greatest Hits of the Fourth Decade, Scotti Bros., 1992.

Living in America, Scotti Bros., 1995.

Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang, Polydor, 1996.

Dead on the Heavy Funk, Polydor, 1998.

James Brown's Funky People (Part 3), Polydor, 2000.

James Brown The Next Step, Fome, 2002.

Books

I Feel Good, New American Library, 2005. (With Bruce Tucker) James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Macmillan, 1986.

Sources

Books

Danielsen, Anne, Presence and Pleasure: The Funk Grooves of James Brown and Parliament, Wesleyan University Press, 2006.

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, Macmillan.

(With Bruce Tucker) James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Macmillan, 1986.

Rolling Stone Album Guide, Random House, 1992.

Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, Random House, 1992.

Who's Who in Soul Music, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991.

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 31, 2006, p. A14.

Augusta Chronicle (GA), December 31, 2006, p. A6.

Current Biography, March 1992, p. 18.

Jet, October 15, 1984, p. 38; February 26, 1996, p. 18.

Rolling Stone, April 6, 1989, p. 36; August 23, 1990, p. 98; June 27, 1991, p. 60.

Take Pride! Community Magazine, February 2007, p. 14.

Other

James Brown: The Man, The Music, and the Message (documentary), re-release 2007.

Soul Survivor: The James Brown Story (film), 2004.

                                                     —Mike Eggert and Sara Pendergast

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Brown, James 1933–

James Brown 1933

Singer, songwriter, keyboard player

Introduced to Music in Childhood

Began Career in Rock and Roll

Reinvented Soul Music Into Funk

From Jailbird to Hip Hop Icon

Selected discography

Selected writings

Sources

Image not available for copyright reasons

If a famous persons nicknames tell a lot about them, James Browns nicknames must say a mouthful. He was known at one time as Soul Brother Number One, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Mr. Dynamite, Mr. Sex Machine, and currently holds down an executive position as the Godfather of Soul. But then there is plenty to know about James Brown. He has the highest number of singles to reach the top 20, and the second-highest number of singles to reach the top 100 after Elvis Presley; he reinvented soul music at least twice; and it is impossible to know what soul music, funk, disco, or rap would sound like if not for his musical influence. He also has been a political figure which attracted his share of both admirers and detractors among blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, and has made an impact on American culture, black and otherwise, that few others can equal.

James Joe Brown Jr. was born on May 3, 1933, although various other dates have been ascribed him over the years, near Barnwell, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia. He was stillborn in his familys one-room shack, and the family had given him up for dead, but he was resuscitated by his great-aunt Minnie. His father, Joe Brown, worked the area to get sap from trees, which he sold to turpentine manufacturers. The four of them lived in the area until Jamess mother, Susan (Behlings) Brown, left when James was four years old. In his 1986 autobiography, James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Brown expressed his regret at not being raised by both his parents.

Introduced to Music in Childhood

When Brown was six, Joe moved him and his aunt to Augusta in a search for more work. They moved in with another aunt, Honey, who ran a bordello on U.S. Highway 1. It was, to say the least, an unusual environment for a young child to grow up in, as Brown wrote in his autobiography, reprinted in Current Biography: I guess I saw and heard just about everything in the world in that house, when the soldiers were there with the women. The family did not have much money, and James was embarrassed that he had to attend school in raggedy clothes. One day Joe brought home an old pump organ, though, and James discovered that he had a natural knack for playing music. Until he could begin

At a Glance

Born James Joe Brown Jr., May 3, 1933 near Barn well, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia; son of Joe Brown, a turpentine worker, and Susan Behlings.

Career: Recording and performing artist since the mid-1950s. Hit songs include Papas Got a Brand New BagPart 1, 1965; Cot You (I Feel Cood), 1965; Its a Mans Mans Mans World, 1966; Cold SweatPart 1, 1967;I Got the Feelin, 1968; Say It LoudIm Black and Im ProudPart Í, 1968; Living In America, 1985.

Selected awards: Received 44 Gold Records; Grammy Awards, 1965, 1986; charter member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1986.

Addresses: Brothers Management Associates, 141 Dunbar Avenue, Fords, New Jersey, 08863.

his career, however, young Brown shined shoes, picked cotton and peanuts, and delivered groceries to earn money.

Brown found many diversions to pique his interest during childhood. Music was one, and he learned to play the drums, piano, guitar, and to sing gospel. He also particularly enjoyed the jump blues music played by Louis Jordan, and was impressed by circuses and traveling minstrel shows, the something-for-everybody philosophy of which later helped inspire his James Brown Revue. He found some early success as a boxer, using his left-handed style to confuse his young opponents. An unfortunate diversion ended his childhood freedom prematurely at age 15. To get money to buy decent clothes for school, Brown sometimes stole objects from unlocked cars. He was caught and received eight-to-16 years at the Georgia Juvenile Training Institute.

While in jail Brown got a leg up on his music career, forming a gospel quartet which included Johnny Terry, who would later become an original member of Browns Famous Flames vocal group. Brown impressed the warden with his commitment to gospel music while in the facility, and when he received a promise of a job upon his release, he was paroled in 1952 after serving only three years of his sentence. Immediately upon his release Brown formed a gospel group with Terry and Bobby Byrd called The 3 Swanees. The group soon moved to Macon, Georgia-which Little Richard and The Five Royals had made into a bit of a local music mecca--began playing more rhythm and blues-oriented material and changed its name to the Flames.

Began Career in Rock and Roll

Once in Macon the group hired as its manager Clint Brantly, Little Richards manager, and he convinced the Flames to add the Famous adjective to their name. Early in 1956 the group cut a record, Please, Please, Please, for King records, which released it on its Federal subsidiary. The song became a hit, peaking at number six on the rhythm and blues charts, and Browns career was underway. The name of the group was soon changed to James Brown and the Famous Flames, although at the time Brown had yet to refine any of the distinctive styles which would later make him a legend. Please, Please, Please, and its follow-up hit, Try Me, from 1958, were fairly ordinary rhythm and blues songs which could have been recorded by any number of artists at the time. More distinctive during the 1950s was Browns live act, which included a 20-piece band, four warm-up soloists, two vocal groups, a comedian and a troupe of dancers. As for Brown himself, he put forth an energy in his performances which was second to none and exceeded most. As Rolling Stone Bill Wyman would later tell Rolling Stone magazine: You could put Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on one side of the stage and James Brown on the other, and you wouldnt even notice the others were up there!

In the early 1960s, Brown found his trademark sound with such hits as Ill Go Crazy, and Think. The characteristics of the James Brown sound were staccato horn bursts, a scratchy guitar, and a prominent bass guitar, all coming together to provide a kind of rhythmic excitement which contrasted sharply with the eras more traditional musical tools of verse-chorus-verse song construction and melody. It began a string of hits that would be the greatest of Browns career, running until the end of the decade.

Brown felt he faced a problem in 1962, however. Although he had a string of hits on the rhythm and blues charts, including Baby, Youre Right, and Lost Someone, both of which peaked at number two, and his singles had also fared respectably on the pop charts, he felt his best work was being done in concert. The energy and excitement of his live performances were not coming through on his records. Brown was convinced that in order to communicate his style to the record-buying public he needed to record a live album, an unusual step in rock music at that time and one King found expensive and impractical. Brown decided to take matters into his own hands, rented the Apollo Theater in Harlem, milked the band and the audience, produced the album himself and even put the theaters ushers in tuxedos, all of which cost him $5,700. The gamble paid off, as the album, recorded in November 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, became a huge phenomenon which is to this day regarded as one of the finest live rock and roll albums ever recorded. Browns stage style found him segueing immediately from one song to another, a practice which would ordinarily cause problems for radio stations wanting to cue up a single song. It did not matter in the end, as black radio stations took the then-unheard-of step of playing the record a side at a time, as if the two sides were 20-minute songs.

Browns sound was now known to the public, and his tireless touring schedule, which included as many as 350 dates in a year (hence the nickname, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business), began to draw even larger audiences. Browns dancing also became legendary: His trademark move was to grab the microphone stand, slide down into the splits, pop back up out of them and erupt into a pirouette, a move few other mortals dared attempt for fear of any number of injuries. During the mid-1960s Brown hit upon another bit of on-stage mania which became his show-stopping, show-closing trademark for several years, in which he would sing the song Please, Please, Please, until collapsing in mock anguish and exhaustion in a heap on stage, whereupon his backup singers would drape his lifeless form with a cape, help him to his feet, and lead him toward the wings, only to have him throw the cape off, return to front-stage center, resume the song and start the whole process over again. The act was a great crowd-pleaser wherever Brown performed.

While Browns stage show was a hit with audiences everywhere, the members of his backing group differed among themselves on his qualities as a boss. While some of his band members, such as Terry and Byrd, stayed with him for many years, many found his leadership style tyrannical and unbearably egotistical. Brown levied fines for a number of offenses which he found intolerable, including lateness, wrinkled uniforms, scuffed shoes, and even missed steps and notes on stage. Other accusations which band members have accused Brown of over the years included denying writing credits and record royalties, leaving musicians stranded on the road, threatening them with guns, stealing their girlfriends, and exhibiting erratic behavior due to drug abuse.

Brown kept the Flames together through 1970, though, and the group had some huge hit records, including Papas Got a Brand New BagPart 1, I Got You (I Feel Good), Its a Mans Mans Mans World, Cold SweatPart 1 I Got the Feelin, Say It LoudIm Black and Im ProudPart 1, Give It Up or Turnit a Loose, and Mother Popcorn Part 1, all of which reached Number One on the rhythm and blues charts and most of which reached the top ten on the pop charts. Brown also became a fairly prominent voice in the black community during the most crucial days of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, appearing on television to help quell riots in the streets of Boston and Washington, D.C. after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and was once recruited by H. Rap Brown to assist with his Black Power movement. Many blacks did not approve of Browns public appearances with politicians such as Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon-whom Brown endorsed for presidentand one of the ironies of Browns career in this era was that he was simultaneously distrusted by both whites (for songs such as Say It LoudIm Black and Im Proud, which some found uncomfortably militant), and blacks (for endorsing Nixon, disavowing violence and proclaiming himself a Republican).

Reinvented Soul Music Into Funk

During the late 1960s the Famous Flames underwent numerous personnel changes as the fallout from Browns tough discipline found members leaving the band more frequently. Brown finally decided to disband the group, and in 1971 his new group, the JBs, made its debut with a song called Hot Pants. The new band had a sound markedly different from the old band, a sound which would come to be called funk. It was a sound he had been gradually moving toward over the late 1960s, but with the JBs the style was realized in full. In his autobiography Brown explained, I had discovered that my strength was not in the horns, it was in the rhythm. I was hearing everything, even the guitars, like they were drums. I had found out how to make it happen. The JBs would go on to have about five more years worth of hits before the disco era began to see their popularity wane.

During this period, however, Browns music began to feel the scorn of rock critics, who called it repetitive and monotonous. A typical Brown album of this period would feature a handful of songs, each consisting of a single riff which would be sustained for several minutes, while Brown spoke his mind about any number of topics over top of the music. Robert Palmer, writing in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, was one who argued against this verdict. Attacking him for being repetitive is like attacking Africans for being overly fond of drumming, he wrote.

Things in Browns personal life began to take a turn for the worse in the mid 1970s. In 1973 his son, Teddy, was killed in an auto accident, and Bobby Byrd quit the band to pursue a solo career. Also that year, the Internal Revenue Service stepped up its attempts to collect back taxes from Brown. In 1968 the IRS claimed he owed nearly $2 million; now they added another $4.5 million to the tab. A few years later his second wife Deirdre left him (his first marriage, to the former Velma Warren, fell apart in 1968). All the while his relationship with his record company since 1971, Polydor, steadily deteriorated, as Brown felt the label did not understand his music or his market.

Brown had built himself a formidable business empire over the first two decades of his career. He had a large house, a fleet of cars, several radio stations (including one in Augusta in front of which he had shined shoes as a youngster), a booking agency, 17 publishing companies, a record label, a production company and a Lear jet. But with his tax problems mounting, the government began taking bites out of his empire. The radio stations, which were also having union problems, became the target of a government investigation, and the government also took possession of many of Browns properties, including his jet and his home. In 1978 he was arrested on stage at the Apollo for defying a government order not to leave the country during the investigation of the radio stations.

The late 1970s-early 1980s were a sort of rebuilding period for Browns career. He severed his ties with Polydor, hired well-known lawyer William Kunstler to handle his legal affairs, renewed his religious faith, and hit the rock club circuit around New York. He also found a vehicle for his music on celluloid, appearing in The Blues Brothers and Dr. Detroit, and singing the theme song for Rocky IV, Living in America. That song hit number four on the pop charts in 1985, his first top ten pop hit in 17 years.

In 1984 Brown embarked on a union which would dramatically shape the next decade of his life when he married Adrienne Modell Rodriguez, a hairstylist on the syndicated music television program Solid Gold. The pair would go on to have a stormy relationship, as Brown had with many of the women in his life. At one time Adrienne appeared beaten and bruised in the National Enquirer, allegedly from a Brown beating; she would later claim it was a publicity stunt, but beating women was an activity Brown had already garnered a reputation for in the past. Drug use, particularly PCP, was also reportedly a major factor in the marriage, although both parties would vociferously deny it. On a happier note during this decade, Brown became a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at induction ceremonies in 1986. That night, while I was being inducted, he recalled in Current Biography, I think I felt for the first time that the struggle was over.

From Jailbird to Hip Hop Icon

Brown, though, sunk deeper and deeper into his drug use until, according to an April 1989 article in Rolling Stone, his band members feared he would die. His rendezvous with rock bottom began October 24, 1988. There has been some disagreement about exactly what happened that day, but this much seems to have been confirmed: Brown, high on PCP, burst into an insurance seminar in the building next to his office in Augusta. He carried a shotgun that did not work, and complained that people from the seminar had been using his private bathroom. The police were called, and Brown fled in his truck. The police chased him into South Carolina, shooting out his tires. Brown circled back, and the police chased him back to Augusta, before he drove the truck into a ditch. Police claimed that Brown was incoherent, attempted to sing and dance while being given a sobriety test, but he was later acquitted of driving under the influence of PCP. Brown claimed that he had actually pulled over at one point during the chase, but police had riddled his truck with bullets, and he drove off on the rims in fear for his life when they stopped to reload. He claimed his truck had 23 bullet holes when the incident was over. At any rate, Brown was released on bail, and the very next day was again pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of PCP.

The trial which followed the chase was a source of almost as much disagreement as the chase itself. Apparently, the judge and Browns lawyer advised him to plead guilty and accept a 90-day jail term, but Brown insisted upon his innocence and went through with the trial. He was convicted of aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police car with its blue lights on, and received concurrent six-year sentences from Georgia and South Carolina. Some, including Brown, have claimed that racial bias had much to do with the severity of the sentences.

Browns time in prison was a very bad time for him in some ways, very good in others. He was shocked to discover that many of the young black inmates at the prison had no idea who he was, and was disappointed that some of his powerful friends did not attempt to gain his release or even visit him. Having had several friends in presidential administrations, Brown did not think he would do much time of his six-year sentence, but it took about two years for him to finally be paroled. However, Brown heard much of his own music in prison, although it took some doing to convince his fellow inmates that it was his music. He heard it in the samples on the rap and hip-hop records which the prisoners listened to. Brown did not like his music being used on so many records he did not approve of, but hearing how much his music was being usedhe is universally acknowledged as the most-sampled performer of all timerenewed his determination that his music was still as immediate and fresh as ever, and convinced him his career would take off again upon his release.

Indeed, Browns career did see a resurgence upon his release. There were several factors as to why James Brown was so hot upon his release from prison. One was certainly the publicity he had received for his legal troubles. Another was the popularity of hip-hop and the obvious lineage leading back to Browns music. Another was that Browns music was known by the white community more than ever before, as in his heyday his American audience was almost exclusively black. Also, Browns music had undergone a sort of critical reappraisal in the late 1980s, as rock writers reconsidered the criticisms they had made in the 1970s and concluded that his music had been groundbreaking and extremely influential, after all. Yet another reason was the release of Star Time!, the boxed set retrospective of Browns career, and Love Over-Due, his new studio album, both of which were released in 1991. Amazingly, considering the decade-long slump which preceded his incarceration, James Brown had come back as hot as ever.

Tragedy struck Browns life again in 1996, when Adrienne died from taking PCP while using prescription medicine. She also had a bad heart, and was weak from having undergone liposuction surgery. But it was clear that Adriennes death would not prevent Brown from doing what tax problems, imprisonment, controversy and even disco already had not prevented him from doing: performing. So a career which had been among the most accomplished in the history of pop music would continue on into the foreseeable future. As the 1992 edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide said, James Brown may never have captured the zeitgeist as Elvis Presley or the Beatles did, nor can he be said to have dominated the charts like Stevie Wonder or the Rolling Stones, but by any real measure of musical greatnessendurance, originality, versatility, breadth of influencehe towers over them all.

Selected discography

Please, Please, Please, King, 1959

Thing, King, 1960

James Brown Presents His Band, King, 1961

Excitement Mr. Dynamite, King, 1962

Live at the Apollo, King, 1963

Prisoner of Love, King, 1963

Pure Dynamite!, King, 1964

Papas Got a Brand New Bag, King, 1965

I Got You (I Feel Good), King, 1966

Mighty Instrumentals, Smash, 1966

James Brown Plays New Breed (The Boo-Ga-Loo), Smash, 1966

Its a Mans Mans Mans World, King, 1966

Handful of Soul, Smash, 1966

James Brown Sings Raw Soul, King, 1967

James Brown Plays the Real Thing, Smash, 1967

Live at the Garden, King, 1967

Cold Sweat, King, 1967

I Cant Stand Myself (When You Touch Me), King 1968

I Got the Feelin, King, 1968

James Brown Plays Nothing But Soul, King, 1968

Live at the Apollo, Vol., II, 1968

Thinking About Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things, King, 1968

Say It Loud, Im Black and Im Proud, King, 1969

The Popcorn, King, 1969

Its a Mother,, King, 1969

Its a New DayLet a Man Come In, King, 1970

Sex Machine, King, 1970

Super Bad, King, 1971

Hot Pants, Polydor, 1971

Revolution of the Mind (Live at the Apollo Theater, Vol. III), Polydor, 1971

There It Is, Polydor, 1972

Get on the Good Foot, Polydor, 1972

The Payback, Polydor, 1974

Hell, Polydor, 1974

Hot, Polydor, 1976

Get Up Offa That Thing, Polydor, 1976

Solid Gold, Polydor UK, 1977

Take a Look at Those Cakes, Polydor, 1979

The Original Disco Man, Polydor, 1979

People, Polydor, 1980

Hot on the One, Polydor, 1980

Soul Syndrome, Polydor, 1980

Nonstop!, Polydor, 1981

Bring It On!, Churchill/Augusta, 1983

The Federal Years, Part One, Solid Smoke, 1984

The Federal Years, Part Two, Solid Smoke, 1984

Aint That a Groove, Polydor, 1984

Doing It to Death, Polydor, 1984

The CD of JB (Sex Machine and Other Soul Classics), Polydor, 1985

Gravity, Scotti Bros., 1986

James Browns Funky People, Polydor, 1986

In the Jungle Groove, Polydor, 1986

The CD of JB II (Cold Sweat and Other Soul Classics), Polydor, 1987

Im Real, Scotti Bros., 1988

James Browns Funky People (Part 2), Polydor, 1988

Motherlode, Polydor, 1988

Soul Session Live, Scotti Bros., 1989

Roots of a Revolution, Polydor, 1989

Messing With the Blues, Polydor, 1990

Star Time, Polydor, 1991

Love Over-Due, Scotti Bros., 1991

20 All-Time Greatest Hits, Polydor, 1991

The Greatest Hits of the Fourth Decade, Scotti Bros., 1992

Selected writings

James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, 1986

Sources

Books

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, Macmillan

Rolling Stone Album Guide, Random House, 1992

Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, Random House, 1992

Whos Who in Soul Music, by Ralph Tee, Weidenfeld and Nicholson

Periodicals

Current Biography, March 1992, p. 18

Jet, October 15, 1984, p. 38; February 26, 1996, p. 18

Rolling Stone, April 6, 1989, p. 36; August 23, 1990, p. 98; June 27, 1991, p. 60

Mike Eggert

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Eggert, Mike. "Brown, James 1933–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Eggert, Mike. "Brown, James 1933–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1997. Retrieved June 28, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2871700018.html

Brown, James

James Brown

Singer, bandleader

The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business

Gutsand an Iron Hand

Taxes, Tragedy, and Trouble

Jailed After 1988 Chase

Selected discography

Sources

In the book about his life, Living in America, James Brown told the author, I never try to express what I actually did, regarding his influence on the American soul scene. I wouldnt try to do that, cause definitions such a funny thing. Whats put together to make my musicits something which has real power. It can stir people up and involve em. But its just something I came to hear.

The music that James Brown heard in his headand conveyed to his extraordinary musicians with an odd combination of near-telepathic signals and vicious browbeatingchanged the face of soul. By stripping away much of the pop focus that had clouded pure rhythm and blues, Brown found a rhythmic core that was at once primally sexual and powerfully spiritual. Shouting like a preacher over bad-to-the-bone grooves and wicked horn lines, he unleashed a string of hits through the 1960s and early 1970s; he was also a formative influence on such rock and soul superstars as Parlia-ment-Funkadelic leader George Clinton, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, Prince, and Michael Jackson, among countless others.

By the late 1970s, however, Browns career was waning, and he was plagued by demands for back taxes, a nagging drug problem, and a combative relationship with his third wife. In 1988 he went to prison after leading police on a high-speed chase. And even as the advent of hip-hop has made him perhaps the most sampled artist in the genre, he has had frequent scrapes with the law since his release in 1991. Even so, his legacyas bandleader, singer, dancer, and pop music visionaryis assured.

Brown was born in the Southsources vary, but generally have him hailing from Georgia or South Carolinaand grew up in Augusta, Georgia, struggling to survive. At the age of four, he was sent to live with his aunt, who oversaw a brothel. Under such circumstances, he grew up fast; by his teens he drifted into crime. In the words of Timothy White, who profiled the singer in his book Rock Stars,Brown became a shoeshine boy. Then a pool-hall attendant. Then a thief. At 16 he went to jail for multiple car thefts. Though initially sentenced to 8-16 years of hard labor, he got out in under four for good behavior. After unsuccessful forays into boxing and baseball, he formed a gospel group called the Swanees with his prison pal Johnny Terry.

The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business

The Swanees shifted toward the popular mid-1950s doo-wop style and away from gospel, changing their name to the Famous Flames. Brown sang lead and played drums; their song Please, Please, Pleasea

For the Record

Born May 3, 1933, in Barnwell, SC (some sources say Augusta, GA, or Pulaski, TN); married three times (divorced twice, third wife died); children: six (son Teddy died c. 1970s).

Held various jobs before being incarcerated in Alto Reform School, Toccoa, GA, 1949-52; boxer and semi-professional baseball player, c. 1953-55; sang in gospel group that came to be known as the Famous Flames, 1955, then began playing R&B music; group changed name to James Brown and the Famous Flames and released Federal single Please, Please, Please, 1956; signed to Smash label, 1964; Famous Flames quit; Brown signed to Polydor Records and released Hot Pants, 1971; charged with tax evasion, 1975; appeared in film The Blues Brothers, 1980; sang Living in America for Rocky IV soundtrack, 1986; signed to CBS records and released Gravity, 1986; recorded Gimme Your Love, duet with Aretha Franklin, 1988; arrested after high-speed chase and sentenced to prison, 1988; performed and lectured as part of prison work-release program, 1990; Rykodisc released 4-CD career retrospective Star Time, 1991; charged with two counts of domestic violence, mid-1990s; signed to Scotti Bros. Records; new label released Universal James, 1993, and The Great James Brown: Live at the Apollo, 1995.

Selected awards: Grammy Awards for best R&B recording for Papas Got a Brand New Bag, 1965, and for best male R&B performance for Living in America, 1987; inducted into Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, 1986.

Addresses: Record company Scotti Bros. Records, 2114 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405. Production company New James Brown Enterprises, 1217 West Medical Park Rd., Augusta, GA 30909.

wrenchingly passionate number in which Brown wailed the titular word over and overwas released as a single in 1956 and became a million-seller. By 1960 the group had become the James Brown Revue and was generating proto-funk dance hits like (Do the) Mashed Potato. Deemed the King of Soul at the Apollo Theater, New Yorks black music mecca, Brown proceeded over the ensuing years to bum up the charts with singles like Papas Got a Brand New Bag,I Got You (I Feel Good), Its a Mans Mans Mans World,Cold Sweat, Funky Drummer, and many others. In the meantime, he signed with the Mercury subsidiary Smash Records and released a string of mostly instrumental albums, on which he often played organ.

Browns declamatory style mixed a handful of seminal influences, but his intensity and repertoire of punctuating vocal soundsgroans, grunts, wails, and screams came right out of the southern church. His exhortations to sax player Maceo Parker to blow your horn, and trademark cries of Good God! and Take it to the bridge! became among the most recognizable catch-phrases in popular music. The fire of his delivery was fanned by his amazingly agile dancing, without which Michael Jacksons fancy footwork is unimaginable. And his bandthough its personnel shifted constantlymaintained a reputation as one of the tightest in the business. Starting and stopping on a dime, laying down merciless grooves, it followed Browns lead as he worked crowds the world over into a fine froth. It was like being in the army, William Bootsy Collinswho served as Browns bassist during the late 1960stold Musician, adding that the soul legend was just a perfectionist at what he was doing. Brown adopted a series of extravagant titles over the years, but during this period he was known primarily as The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business.

Gutsand an Iron Hand

At the same time, Browns harshness as a leader meant that bandmembers were constantly facing fines for lateness, flubbed notes, missed cues, violating his strict dress code, or even for talking back to him. His musicians also complained of overwork and insufficient pay, and some alleged that Brown took credit for ideas they had developed. The singer-bandleaders temper is legendary; as trombonist Fred Wesley told Living in America author Cynthia Rose, James was bossy and paranoid. I didnt see why someone of his stature would be so defensive. I couldnt understand the way he treated his band, why he was so evil.

Charles Shaar Murray ventured in his book Crosstown Traffic that playing with James Brown was a great way to learn the business and to participate in the greatest rhythm machine of the sixties. It was a very poor way to get rich, to get famous, or to try out ones own ideas. Even so, the groupwhich included, at various times, funk wizards like Maceo Parker, guitarist Jimmy Nolen, and drummer Clyde Stubblefieldreached unprecedented heights of inspiration under Brown. He has no real musical skills, Wesley remarked to Rose, yet he could hold his own onstage with any jazz virtuoso because of his guts.

The increasingly militant stance of many black activists in the late 1960s led Brownby now among an elite group of influential African Americansto flirt with the Black Power movement. Even so, the singer generally counseled nonviolence and won a commendation from President Lyndon B. Johnson when a broadcast of his words helped head off a race riot. He was also saluted by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey for his pro-education song Dont Be a Dropout. Browns music did begin to incorporate more overtly political messages, many of which reiterated his belief that black people needed to take control of their economic destinies. He was a walking example of this principle, having gained control of his master tapes by the mid-1960s.

The year 1970 saw the release of Browns powerful single (Get Up, I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine, a relentless funk groove featuring several hot young players, notably Bootsy Collins and his brother Phelps, aka Catfish. Brown soon signed with Polydor Records and took on the moniker the Godfather of Soul, after the highly successful mafia movie The Godfather. Further refining his hard funk sound, he released hits like Get on the Good Foot,Talking Loud and Saying Nothing, and Soul Power. With the 1970s box-office success of black action filmsknown within the industry as blax-ploitation picturesBrown began writing movie soundtracks, scoring such features as Slaughters Big Rip-Off and Black Caesar.

Taxes, Tragedy, and Trouble

James Brown may have been one of the biggest pop stars in the worldthe marquees labeled him Minister of New New Super Heavy Funkbut he was not immune to trouble. In 1975 the Internal Revenue Service claimed that he owed $4.5 million in taxes from 1969-70, and many of his other investments collapsed. His band quit after a punishing tour of Africa, and most tragically, his son Teddy died in an automobile accident. Browns wife later left him, taking their two daughters.

By the late 1970s, the advent of disco music created career problems for the Godfather of Soul. Though he dubbed himself The Original Disco Man (a. k. a. The Sex Machine), he saw fewer and fewer of his singles charting significantly. Things improved slightly after he appeared as a preacher in the smash 1980 comedy film The Blues Brothers, and he demonstrated his importance to the burgeoning hip-hop form with Unity (The Third Coming), his 1983 EP with rapper Afrika Bam-baataa. But Browns big comeback of the 1980s came with the release of Living in America, the theme from the film Rocky IV, which he performed at the request of star Sylvester Stallone. The single was his first million-selling hit in 13 years. As a result, Brown inked a new deal with CBS Records; in 1986 he was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Living in America earned him a Grammy Award for best R&B performance by a male artist.

Jailed After 1988 Chase

Through it all, Brown had been struggling with substance abuse, despite his participation in the Presidents Council against Drugs. His and his third wife Adriennes use of the drug known as PCP or angel dust led to frequent encounters with the law; in May of 1988 he faced charges of assault, weapons and drug possession, and resisting arrest. In December he was arrested again after leading police on a two-state car chase and was sentenced to six years in State Park Correctional Facility in Columbia, South Carolina. His confinement became a political issue for his fans, and Brown was ultimately released in early 1991. Weve got lots of plans, the soul legend declared to Rolling Stone, adding that the experience has opened James Browns eyes about things he has to do. He later announced plans to tape a cable special with pop-rap sensation M.C. Hammer.

That same year saw the release of Star Time, a four-CD boxed set that meticulously collected Browns finest moments; much of which had never been released on compact disc before. The projects release date was set to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Please, Please, Please. Brown, meanwhile, set to work on a new album, Universal James, which included production by British soul star Jazzie B. Itll be the biggest album I ever had, he declared to Spin, though this was not to be the case. The 1990s did, however, reveal just how influential James Browns work had been in rap and hip-hop circles: hundreds of his records were sampled for beats, horn stabs, and screams; the group Public Enemy, which had taken its name from one of his singles, often elaborated on the political themes he had raised.

Meanwhilethanks in part to his participation in The Blues Brothers and the use of his music in feature films like Good Morning, Vietnam Brown emerged as a classic mainstream artist. Indeed, Time magazine listed 32 appearances of I Got You (I Feel Good) in films, movie trailers, and television commercials, and this list was probably not exhaustive. In 1993 the people of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, christened the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. The following year a street running alongside New Yorks Apollo Theater was temporarily named James Brown Blvd., and he performed at Radio City Music Hall; superstar actress Sharon Stone sang Happy Birthday to him on the occasion of his 61 st. Im wherever God wants me to be and wherever the people need for me to be, he told the New York Times.

Unfortunately, his troubles were not at an end. In December of 1994, he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after yet another conflagration with Adrienne. And on October 31, 1995, Brown was once again arrested for spousal abuse. He later blamed the incident on his wifes addiction to drugs, stating in a press release, Shell do anything to get them. Just over two months later, Adrienne died at the age of 47 after undergoing cosmetic surgery.

Browns penchant for survival and the shining legacy of his work managed to overshadow such ugly incidents. No one in the world makes me want to dance like James Brown, wrote producer and record executive Jerry Wexlerone of the architects of modern soulin his book Rhythm and the Blues. I came from nothing and I made something out of myself, Brown commented in a New York Times interview. I dance and I sing and I make it happen. Ive made people feel better. I want people to be happy. The Godfather of Soul released a new live album in 1995.

Selected discography

On King, except where noted

Please, Please, Please, Federal, 1956.

Live at the Apollo, 1963.

Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal, 1964.

Showtime, Smash, 1964.

Grits and Soul, Smash, 1965.

Papas Got a Brand New Bag, 1965.

James Brown Plays James Brown Yesterday and Today, Smash, 1965.

James Brown Plays New Breed, Smash, 1966.

Its a Mans Mans Mans World, 1966.

Handful of Soul, 1966.

Raw Soul, 1967.

Live at the Garden, 1967.

James Brown Plays the Real Thing, Smash, 1967.

Cold Sweat, 1967.

I Cant Stand Myself, 1968.

I Got the Feelin, 1968.

James Brown Plays Nothing But Soul, Smash, 1968.

Say It LoudIm Black and Im Proud, 1969.

Gettin Down to It, 1969.

James Brown Plays and Directs the Popcorn, Smash, 1969.

Its a Mother, 1969.

Sex Machine, 1970.

Super Bad, 1970.

Sho Is Funky Down Here, 1971.

On Polydor, except where noted

Hot Pants, 1971.

Revolution of the Mind, 1971.

Soul Classics, 1972.

There It Is, 1972.

Black Caesar, 1973.

Slaughters Big Rip-Off, 1973.

Soul Classics, Volume 2, 1973.

The Payback, 1973.

Hell, 1974.

Reality, 1974.

Sex Machine Today, 1975.

Everybodys Dointhe Hustle and Dead on the Double Bump, 1975.

Hot, 1975.

Get Up Offa That Thing, 1976.

Bodyheat, 1976.

Muthas Nature, 1977.

Jam/1980s, 1978.

Take a Look at Those Cakes, 1978.

The Original Disco Man, 1979.

(With Afrika Bambaataa) Unity (The Third Coming), Tommy Boy, 1983.

(Contributor) Rocky IV (soundtrack; performs Living in America), 1986.

Gravity, CBS, 1986.

Im Real, CBS, 1988.

Aretha Franklin, Through the Storm (appears on Gimme Your Love), Arista, 1988.

Star Time (4-CD boxed set), Rykodisc, 1991.

Universal James, Scotti Bros., 1993.

The Great James Brown: Live at the Apollo, 1995, Scotti Bros., 1995.

Sources

Books

Brown, James, The Godfather of Soul, 1990.

Murray, Charles Shaar, Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and the Rock n Roll Revolution, St. Martins, 1989.

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, ABC/CLIO, 1991.

Rose, Cynthia, Living in America: The Soul Saga of James Brown, Serpents Tail, 1990.

Wexler, Jerry, Rhythm and the Blues, Knopf, 1993.

White, Timothy, Rock Stars, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1984.

Periodicals

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, GA), April 30, 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, December 23, 1994.

Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1994; December 10, 1994.

Musician, November 1994.

New York Times, April 13, 1994.

Oakland Press (Oakland County, Ml), November 4, 1995; January 7, 1996.

Rolling Stone, April 18, 1991.

Spin, December 1992; December 1993.

Time, April 25, 1994; May 16, 1994.

Additional information for this profile was taken from Scotti Bros, publicity materials, 1995.

Simon Glickman

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Brown, James 1951–

James Brown 1951

Television sports commentator and host

Inspired to Achieve

Strengthened by Adversity

Attained Stardom at CBS

Switched to FOX

Sources

James Brown, known as JB, is among the countrys best television sports show hosts. As co-anchor of FOX NFL Sunday, along with numerous other shows and events, Brown has covered an unusually wide range of sports. He has moved beyond the realm of sports and hosted Americas Black Forum and the prime-time home video showcase, The Worlds Funniest! Brown has the experience and talent to achieve success in whatever he pursues.

A former athlete whose professional career was cut short, Brown is respected for his excellent rapport with sports figures, poise, insight about the games and players, quick-wittedness, and adaptive ability to master virtually any sport. Brown approaches new assignments by reading as much as possible about his subject and consulting experts in the field. This type of extensive preparation has earned Brown the reputation as one of the hardest working and knowledgeable sports commentators in the business.

Although he is not the first African American to achieve stardom as a sportscaster, Brown is still something of a pioneer. Historically, almost all of the African Americans who worked insports broadcasting were famous athletes or coaches within their particular sport. Brown realized that he could not compete directly with the name recognition or expertise of a Doctor J or Magic Johnson. Instead, he chose to pursue a career as a play-by-play commentator, anchor, and host. Most of these positions, however, were traditionally held by white men. In an article in USA Today, Brown remarked, I dont have the marquee value ex-NBA players and coaches have, and Im black. Ive had to overcome both hurdles.

Brown has tackled some sports that are considered foreign to African Americans, such as professional hockey. He has served for several years as the host of FOXs hockey pre-game and halftime shows. With his rigorous work ethic and sharp mind, he consistently excels. Describing his approach in USA Today, Brown said, If you do your homework and become fundamentally conversant with the sport, you can understand whats happening on the ice and ask intelligent questions.

Inspired to Achieve

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1951, Browns father died when he was very young. His mother, Mary Ann, raised

At a Glance

Born James Brown February 25, 1951, in Washington, D.C. to John and Mary Ann Brown. Education: Harvard Univ., BA in American government, 1973.

Career: Drafted in fourth round by NBAs Atlanta Hawks, but cut from the team during his first season; worked in sales at Xerox for seven years, followed by one and a half years at Eastman Kodak; joined CBS as a college basket-ball analyst and NFL play-by-play announcer, 198494; joined the FOX network, 1994-; worked on boxing matches for HBO Sports, contributes to HBOs Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, hosts Worlds Funniest! (home videos), and hosts nationally syndicated Americas Black Forum.

Awards: Emmy Award for Let Me Be Brave-A Special Climb of Kilimanjaro, National Academy of Television and Sciences (NATAS), 1992; inducted into the Harvard Hall of Fame, 1996; Sportscaster of the Year Award, Quarterback Club of Washington, 1996; Emmy Award as Outstanding Host of FOX NFL Sunday, 1999.

Addresses: OfficeFOX Sports; 10201 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035.

him and his four siblings--three older brothers and asister--as a single parent. Brown considers his mother to be his primary influence and inspiration. By all accounts a strong parent, she required her children to focus on academic achievement. Athletic pursuits and social activitieswere considered secondary to academics, and homework was given top priority. Brown recounted an example of this to USA Today, One time in high school we were practicing late at DeMatha, and my motherwe still call her Sargecalled coach Wootten. She called him off the court and told him he promised Id be home by 7 p.m. to study. And he said, Youre right. James will be home soon.

Brown attended DeMatha Catholic High School, which is renowned for combining an excellent sports program with strong college-preparatory academics. He excelled in both areas. Under the guidance of Coach Morgan Wootten-an illustrious high-school coach who was nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame--Brown became an All-Metropolitan and All-American basketball player. In addition to his mother, Wooten became an important mentor and influence for Brown and helped him to develop a strong work ethic.

Brown excelled in the classroom as well. In addition to being naturally intelligent, he was an avid reader who applied himself to his scholastic endeavors. Although he was recruited by many of the nations top college basket-ball programs, Brown accepted an academic scholarship from Harvard University because of its traditions and its stimulating intellectual atmosphere. Browns decision to attend Harvard was heavily influenced by his mother. As he remarked to USA Today, When I got scholarship offers from everywhere, I thought about going to UCLA. But [Mary Ann] said, No. Its Harvard, because to have long-term success, youve got tohave the best education. Brown heeded his mothers advice and, many years later, he told USA Today that Id make the same decision again. He was a star athlete at Harvard, earning All-Ivy League honors every year after his freshman season. In 1973, Brown earned a bachelor of arts degree in American government.

Strengthened by Adversity

Drafted in the fourth round by the Atlanta Hawks, Brown was dealt a devastating blow when he was cut from the team early in his first season. When I was cut from the Hawks, I cried like a baby, Brown told USA Today. I cried for days. I couldnt believe it. Although his dream of becoming a professional athlete had been derailed, Brown refused to give up. As he told USA Today, Even though I thought I should have made the team, something taught to me by my high school coach, Morgan Wootten, stuck with me. He always said, The person who works the hardest usually succeeds the best. And from that time on, I decided no one would outwork me. When Brown asked the coach of the Hawks, Cotton Fitzsimmons, why he had been cut from the team He told me that I have a quality education to fall back on that the other guy doesn t have, he related to USA Today. So I vowed never to let an opportunity go by that I wasnt prepared for.

For several years, Brown worked in sales at Xerox and Eastman Kodak. To maintain his interest in sports, he began doing some workfor a local television station. As Brown remarked in the Washington Post, I thought it would be nothing more than an avocationjust a way to wash ball out of my system. But the media bug kind of bit me. He started working as a play-by-play announcer for college and pro basketball games for local ABC and NBC affiliates. The guy who helped me the most early was Rich Hussey at NBC, Brown told USA Today. In an interview with Contemporary Black Biography, he remarked that Hussey wasnt afraid of offending me when he helped make me aware of some regional pronunciations. I was very grateful for his candor.

From 1984 until 1994, Brown worked for CBS as an NFL play-by-play announcer and basketball analyst. He also had the opportunity to work with esteemed sportscaster Frank Glieber on college and NBA basketball telecasts. Glieber talked about Brown in an interview with USA Today, James has got a great deal of promise. Hes extremely intelligent, with a strong knowledge of the game. His biggest drawback is his credentials in the eyes of the fans. When I say Im working with James Brown, people saythe singer? At first they ask, who is this guy? Then when they hear what he has to say, they really ask who is this guy? All James needs to do now is to loosen up and let his personality take over more.

Attained Stardom at CBS

At CBS, Brown became a media star who was unafraid to take onchallenging assignments. He co-hosted the NCAA basketball championships, hosted freestyle skiing telecasts from the 1994 Winter Olympics, and narrated the Emmy Award-winning show Let Me Be BraveA Special Climb of Kilimanjaro. While working for CBS, Brown came to the realization that his talents were best suited for hosting and play-by-play announcing. In 1987, he became a play-by-play announcer for NFL telecasts. CBS Sports executive producer Ted Shaker told the Washington Post, Hes worked his tail off. It just didnt drop out of the sky into his lap. Hes willing to make whatever sacrifices to get better. Theres still a ways to go. He has tremendous capability. I just like him on the air. I trust him.

By the late 1980s, Brown had become only the second African American sportscasterafter Bryant Gumbelto attain premier status on a national network. Speaking to the Washington Post in 1989, NBC football analyst Reggie Rucker said, Right now, James is the flagship of the fleet. He makes all of us in the business very proud. Brown was well aware that few African Americans were given the opportunity to work as play-by-play announcers or studio anchors, and hoped to be an agent for change. As Brown remarked to the Washington Post in the early 1990s, To my understanding its been that way for a long time. Ive continued to talk about it because maybe it will help sensitize people to the fact there are so few of us. By talking about it, and with the modest degree of success Im having, Im hoping its going to change. In conversations Ive had, I continue to hear the same old thing abouthow theres not a big enough pool [of minority broadcasters] to draw from. I think its there and it depends on how aggressively you go after that pool. Also, there being so few in the ranks, those of us who are here are very closely scrutinized. You have to understand that comes with the territory and accept it.

Switched to FOX

In 1994, the FOX network hired Brown as the co-host of FOX NFL Sunday with Terry Bradshaw, a retired Hall of Fame quarterback. In addition to Bradshaw, Brown was teamed with former Raiders All-Pro Howie Long and former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, who was later replaced by Cris Collinsworth. Browns role on the show is perhaps the most difficult because he must serve as an air traffic controller. In other words, he must combine all elements of the show and do so in such a way that it appears effortless. The show proved to be a tremendously popular lead-in to Sunday afternoon football games on FOX.

In addition to his work on FOX NFL Sunday, Brown assumed the duties of the networks NHL hockey show in 1995. An avid boxing fan, he has also hosted boxing events on HBO. Brown has hosted The Worlds Funniest! home video show and Americas Black Forum, contributed to Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and emceed a special show with figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. On the show, Harding admitted to her role in a plot to injure Kerrigan so thatshe would be unable to compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics. Brown commented about the show in an interview with USA Today, I still find it hard to believe she [Harding] didnt become aware of some snippet of information or some hint early on [of the conspiracy], although she was afraid and in an abusive relationship. What I do believe is how remorseful she is and how much she asks for forgiveness. She feels her life has been ruined .She says she has new people around her and has found religion, God. She says shes truly made peace with the whole issue and wants to go beyond it.

Brown is a deeply religious man who has been involved in a number of charitable organizations, including the Special Olympics, Big Brothers, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth Life Foundation, All Stars Helping Kids, the Neimann-Pick Disease Foundation, and The Marrow Foundation. He has also received numerous awards and distinctions, including the 1996 Sportscaster of the Year Award from the Quarterback Club of Washington. In 1999, Brown won a Sports Emmy Award for his work on FOXNFL Sunday.

Through hard work and talent, Brown has achieved much in his life. As FOX executive producer Ed Goren remarked in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, He has become the voice and face of not just FOX sports, but FOX. When you think CBS, its not just Jim Nantz but Dan Rather. At FOX, there is no nightly news, so J.B. really becomes a spokesman for the entire network. In the same article, Brown attributed his success to advice he had received early in hiscareer, I go back to some advice I got many years ago from Petey Green, who used to host a public affairs show in Washington, D.C. He told me if you come into this business, stay versatile. It 11 keep you working long after others who concentrated on just one thing.

Sources

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, September 20, 1997, p. H2.

USA Today, April 26, 1985, p. 3C; May 11, 1995, p. 3C; January 22, 1997, p. 2C; February 4, 1998, p. 2C.

Washington Post, June 22, 1989 p. B11; November 8, 1991, p. C2.

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained from an interview with Contemporary Black Biography on June 23, 1999.

Mark Baven

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Baven, Mark. "Brown, James 1951–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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James Brown

James Brown

"Godfather of Soul" James Brown (born 1933) is also known as "the hardest-working man in show business."

In the book about his life, Living in America, James Brown told the author, "I never try to express what I actually did," regarding his influence on the American soul scene. "I wouldn't try to do that, 'cause definition's such a funny thing. What's put together to make my music—it's something which has real power. It can stir people up and involve 'em. But it's just something I came to hear."

The music that James Brown heard in his head—and conveyed to his extraordinary musicians with an odd combination of near-telepathic signals and vicious browbeating—changed the face of soul. By stripping away much of the pop focus that had clouded pure rhythm and blues, Brown found a rhythmic core that was at once primally sexual and powerfully spiritual. Shouting like a preacher over bad-to-the-bone grooves and wicked horn lines, he unleashed a string of hits through the 1960s and early 1970s; he was also a formative influence on such rock and soul superstars as Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, Prince, and Michael Jackson, among countless others.

By the late 1970s, however, Brown's career was waning, and he was plagued by demands for back taxes, a nagging drug problem, and a combative relationship with his third wife. In 1988 he went to prison after leading police on a high-speed chase. And even as the advent of hip-hop has made him perhaps the most sampled artist in the genre, he has had frequent scrapes with the law since his release in 1991. Even so, his legacy—as bandleader, singer, dancer, and pop music visionary—is assured.

Brown was born in the South—sources vary, but generally have him hailing from Georgia or South Carolina—and grew up in Augusta, Georgia, struggling to survive. At the age of four, he was sent to live with his aunt, who oversaw a brothel. Under such circumstances, he grew up fast; by his teens he drifted into crime. In the words of Timothy White, who profiled the singer in his book Rock Stars, "Brown became a shoeshine boy. Then a pool-hall attendant. Then a thief." At 16 he went to jail for multiple car thefts. Though initially sentenced to 8-16 years of hard labor, he got out in under four for good behavior. After unsuccessful forays into boxing and baseball, he formed a gospel group called the Swanees with his prison pal Johnny Terry.

The Swanees shifted toward the popular mid-1950s doo-wop style and away from gospel, changing their name to the Famous Flames. Brown sang lead and played drums; their song "Please, Please, Please"—a wrenchingly passionate number in which Brown wailed the titular word over and over—was released as a single in 1956 and became a million-seller. By 1960 the group had become the James Brown Revue and was generating proto-funk dance hits like "(Do the) Mashed Potato." Deemed the "King of Soul" at the Apollo Theater, New York's black music mecca, Brown proceeded over the ensuing years to burn up the charts with singles like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," "Cold Sweat," "Funky Drummer," and many others. In the meantime, he signed with the Mercury subsidiary Smash Records and released a string of mostly instrumental albums, on which he often played organ.

Brown's declamatory style mixed a handful of seminal influences, but his intensity and repertoire of punctuating vocal sounds—groans, grunts, wails, and screams—came right out of the southern church. His exhortations to sax player Maceo Parker to "blow your horn," and trademark cries of "Good God!" and "Take it to the bridge!" became among the most recognizable catchphrases in popular music. The fire of his delivery was fanned by his amazingly agile dancing, without which Michael Jackson's fancy foot-work is unimaginable. And his band—though its personnel shifted constantly—maintained a reputation as one of the tightest in the business. Starting and stopping on a dime, laying down merciless grooves, it followed Brown's lead as he worked crowds the world over into a fine froth. "It was like being in the army," William "Bootsy" Collins—who served as Brown's bassist during the late 1960s—told Musician, adding that the soul legend "was just a perfectionist at what he was doing." Brown adopted a series of extravagant titles over the years, but during this period he was known primarily as "The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business."

At the same time, Brown's harshness as a leader meant that bandmembers were constantly facing fines for lateness, flubbed notes, missed cues, violating his strict dress code, or even for talking back to him. His musicians also complained of overwork and insufficient pay, and some alleged that Brown took credit for ideas they had developed. The singer-bandleader's temper is legendary; as trombonist Fred Wesley told Living in America author Cynthia Rose, "James was bossy and paranoid. I didn't see why someone of his stature would be so defensive. I couldn't understand the way he treated his band, why he was so evil."

Charles Shaar Murray ventured in his book Crosstown Traffic that "playing with James Brown was a great way to learn the business and to participate in the greatest rhythm machine of the sixties. It was a very poor way to get rich, to get famous, or to try out one's own ideas." Even so, the group—which included, at various times, funk wizards like Maceo Parker, guitarist Jimmy Nolen, and drummer Clyde Stubblefield—reached unprecedented heights of inspiration under Brown. "He has no real musical skills," Wesley remarked to Rose, "yet he could hold his own onstage with any jazz virtuoso—because of his guts."

The increasingly militant stance of many black activists in the late 1960s led Brown—by now among an elite group of influential African Americans—to flirt with the "Black Power" movement. Even so, the singer generally counseled nonviolence and won a commendation from President Lyndon B. Johnson when a broadcast of his words helped head off a race riot. He was also saluted by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey for his pro-education song "Don't Be a Dropout." Brown's music did begin to incorporate more overtly political messages, many of which reiterated his belief that black people needed to take control of their economic destinies. He was a walking example of this principle, having gained control of his master tapes by the mid-1960s.

The year 1970 saw the release of Brown's powerful single "(Get Up, I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," a relentless funk groove featuring several hot young players, notably Bootsy Collins and his brother Phelps, aka "Catfish." Brown soon signed with Polydor Records and took on the moniker the "Godfather of Soul," after the highly successful mafia movie The Godfather. Further refining his hard funk sound, he released hits like "Get on the Good Foot," "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing," and "Soul Power." With the 1970s box-office success of black action films—known within the industry as "blaxploitation" pictures—Brown began writing movie soundtracks, scoring such features as Slaughter's Big Rip-Off and Black Caesar.

James Brown may have been one of the biggest pop stars in the world—the marquees labeled him "Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk"—but he was not immune to trouble. In 1975 the Internal Revenue Service claimed that he owed $4.5 million in taxes from 1969-70, and many of his other investments collapsed. His band quit after a punishing tour of Africa, and most tragically, his son Teddy died in an automobile accident. Brown's wife later left him, taking their two daughters.

By the late 1970s, the advent of disco music created career problems for the Godfather of Soul. Though he dubbed himself "The Original Disco Man (a.k.a. The Sex Machine)," he saw fewer and fewer of his singles charting significantly. Things improved slightly after he appeared as a preacher in the smash 1980 comedy film The Blues Brothers, and he demonstrated his importance to the burgeoning hip-hop form with Unity (The Third Coming), his 1983 EP with rapper Afrika Bambaataa. But Brown's big comeback of the 1980s came with the release of "Living in America," the theme from the film Rocky IV, which he performed at the request of star Sylvester Stallone. The single was his first million-selling hit in 13 years. As a result, Brown inked a new deal with CBS Records; in 1986 he was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. "Living in America" earned him a Grammy Award for best R&B performance by a male artist.

Through it all, Brown had been struggling with substance abuse, despite his participation in the President's Council against Drugs. His and his third wife Adrienne's use of the drug known as PCP or "angel dust" led to frequent encounters with the law; in May of 1988 he faced charges of assault, weapons and drug possession, and resisting arrest. In December he was arrested again after leading police on a two-state car chase and was sentenced to six years in State Park Correctional Facility in Columbia, South Carolina. His confinement became a political issue for his fans, and Brown was ultimately released in early 1991. "We've got lots of plans," the soul legend declared to Rolling Stone, adding that the experience "has opened James Brown's eyes about things he has to do." He later announced plans to tape a cable special with pop-rap sensation M.C. Hammer.

That same year saw the release of Star Time, a four-CD boxed set that meticulously collected Brown's finest moments; much of which had never been released on compact disc before. The project's release date was set to coincide with the 35th anniversary of "Please, Please, Please." Brown, meanwhile, set to work on a new album, Universal James, which included production by British soul star Jazzie B. "It'll be the biggest album I ever had," he declared to Spin, though this was not to be the case. The 1990s did, however, reveal just how influential James Brown's work had been in rap and hip-hop circles: hundreds of his records were sampled for beats, horn stabs, and screams; the group Public Enemy, which had taken its name from one of his singles, often elaborated on the political themes he had raised.

Meanwhile—thanks in part to his participation in The Blues Brothers and the use of his music in feature films like Good Morning, Vietnam—Brown emerged as a "classic" mainstream artist. Indeed, Time magazine listed 32 appearances of "I Got You (I Feel Good)" in films, movie trailers, and television commercials, and this list was probably not exhaustive. In 1993 the people of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, christened the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. The following year a street running alongside New York's Apollo Theater was temporarily named James Brown Blvd., and he performed at Radio City Music Hall; superstar actress Sharon Stone sang "Happy Birthday" to him on the occasion of his 61st. "I'm wherever God wants me to be and wherever the people need for me to be," he told the New York Times.

Unfortunately, his troubles were not at an end. In December of 1994, he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after yet another conflagration with Adrienne. And on October 31, 1995, Brown was once again arrested for spousal abuse. He later blamed the incident on his wife's addiction to drugs, stating in a press release, "She'll do anything to get them." Just over two months later, Adrienne died at the age of 47 after undergoing cosmetic surgery.

Brown's penchant for survival and the shining legacy of his work managed to overshadow such ugly incidents. "No one in the world makes me want to dance like James Brown," wrote producer and record executive Jerry Wexler—one of the architects of modern soul—in his book Rhythm and the Blues. "I came from nothing and I made something out of myself," Brown commented in a New York Times interview. "I dance and I sing and I make it happen. I've made people feel better. I want people to be happy." The Godfather of Soul released a new live album in 1995.

In 1997 Brown appeared in When We Were Kings, a documentary also starring Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The film by Leon Gast is about Ali and Foreman's 1974 fight in Zaire (now Congo).

Further Reading

Brown, James, The Godfather of Soul, 1990.

Murray, Charles Shaar, Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and the Rock 'n' Roll Revolution, St. Martin's, 1989.

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, ABC/CLIO, 1991.

Rose, Cynthia, Living in America: The Soul Saga of James Brown, Serpent's Tail, 1990.

Wexler, Jerry, Rhythm and the Blues, Knopf, 1993.

White, Timothy, Rock Stars, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1984.

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, GA), April 30, 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, December 23, 1994.

Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1994; December 10, 1994.

Musician, November 1994,.

New York Times, April 13, 1994.

Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI), November 4, 1995; January 7, 1996.

Rolling Stone, April 18, 1991.

Spin, December 1992; December 1993.

Starwave, "<http://web.3starwave.com/starbios/jamesbrown/b.html>," July 18, 1997.

Time, April 25, 1994; May 16, 1994.

Additional information for this profile was taken from Scotti Bros. Records publicity materials, 1995. □

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Brown, James

James Brown

Born: May 3, 1933
Barnwell, South Carolina

African American singer

"Godfather of Soul" James Brown unleashed a string of rhythm-and-blues hits through the 1960s and early 1970s. His influence and work ethic earned him the reputation as "the hardest-working man in show business."

Difficult childhood

James Joe Brown Jr. was born on May 3, 1933, in Barnwell, South Carolina, to Joe and Susie Brown. His mother left the family when James was only four years old. His father, looking for work, moved the remaining family to Augusta, Georgia, to live with an aunt, who oversaw a brothel (a house for prostitutes). Growing up, Brown was heavily influenced by jazz and rhythm-and-blues, two musical types dominated by African Americans. Other influences were the circuses and traveling shows with their variety of acts, both singing and dancing.

But Brown's musical dreams were soon drowned out by his tough childhood. He grew up fast, and by his teens Brown had drifted into crime. At sixteen he went to jail for multiple car thefts. Though initially sentenced to eight to sixteen years of hard labor, he got out in less than four years for good behavior. After unsuccessful attempts at boxing and baseball, he formed a gospel group called the Swanees with his prison pal Johnny Terry.

"The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business"

The Swanees shifted toward the popular mid-1950s "doo-wop" style and away from gospel, changing their name to the Famous Flames. Brown sang lead and played drums; their song "Please, Please, Please" was released as a single in 1956 and sold a million copies. By 1960 the group had become the James Brown Revue and was generating proto-funk dance hits like "(Do the) Mashed Potato." Deemed the "King of Soul" at the Apollo Theater, New York City's black music capital, Brown proceeded over the years to burn up the charts with singles like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," "Cold Sweat," "Funky Drummer," and many others.

Brown's unique style mixed a handful of influences, but his intensity of punctuating vocal soundsgroans, grunts, wails, and screamscame right out of the southern church. His calls to sax player Maceo Parker to "blow your horn," and trademark cries of "Good God!" and "Take it to the bridge!" became among the most recognizable catch-phrases in popular music. His bandthough its members shifted constantlymaintained a reputation as one of the tightest in the business. Starting and stopping on a dime, laying down merciless grooves, it followed Brown's lead as he worked crowds the world over into a frenzy. Brown adopted a series of extravagant titles over the years, but during this period he was known primarily as "The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business."

Activism

The increasingly militant stance of many African American activists in the late 1960s led Brownby now among an elite group of influential African Americansto flirt with the "Black Power" movement. Even so, the singer generally counseled nonviolence and won praise from President Lyndon B. Johnson (19081973) when a broadcast of his words helped head off a race riot. He was also saluted by Vice President Hubert Humphrey (19111978) for his proeducation song "Don't Be a Dropout." Brown's music did begin to incorporate more obvious political messages, many of which stated his belief that African Americans needed to take control of their economic destinies.

The year 1970 saw the release of Brown's powerful single "(Get Up, I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," a relentless funk groove featuring several hot young players, notably Bootsy Collins and his brother Phelps, also known as "Catfish." Brown soon signed with Polydor Records and took on the nickname the "Godfather of Soul," after the highly successful movie The Godfather. Further refining his hard funk sound, he released hits like "Get on the Good Foot," "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing," and "Soul Power." With the 1970s box-office success of black action filmsknown within the industry as "blaxploitation" picturesBrown began writing movie soundtracks, scoring such features as Slaughter's Big Rip-Off and Black Caesar.

Taxes, tragedy, and trouble

James Brown may have been one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but he also found himself in a fare share of trouble. In 1975 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claimed that he owed $4.5 million in taxes from 1969 to 1970, and many of his other investments collapsed. His band quit after a punishing tour of Africa, and most tragically, his son Teddy died in an automobile accident. Brown's wife later left him, taking their two daughters.

By the late 1970s, the arrival of disco music created career problems for the "Godfather of Soul." Things improved slightly after Brown appeared as a preacher in the smash 1980 comedy film The Blues Brothers, but his big comeback of the 1980s came with the release of "Living in America," the theme from the film Rocky IV, which he performed at the request of movie star Sylvester Stallone (1946). The single was his first million-selling hit in thirteen years. As a result, Brown signed a new deal with CBS Records; in 1986 he was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. "Living in America" earned him a Grammy Award for best R&B performance by a male artist.

Jailed after 1988 chase

Through it all, Brown had been struggling with substance abuse. In May of 1988 he faced charges of assault, weapons and drug possession, and resisting arrest. In December he made national headlines when he was arrested again after leading police on a two-state car chase and was sentenced to six years in State Park Correctional Facility in Columbia, South Carolina. His confinement became a political issue for his fans, and Brown was ultimately released in early 1991.

Unfortunately, Brown's troubles were not at an end. In December of 1994, he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after a confrontation with his third wife, Adrienne. And on October 31, 1995, Brown was again arrested for spousal abuse. He later blamed the incident on his wife's addiction to drugs, stating in a press release, "She'll do anything to get them." Just over two months later, Adrienne died at the age of forty-seven after undergoing cosmetic surgery.

But things seemed to be getting back on track for Brown. In 1998 he released the album I'm Back and in 2000 he was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame at a New York ceremony. The following year, he married his girlfriend of three years, singer Tammie Rae Hynie.

Brown's ability for survival and the shining legacy of his work managed to overshadow such ugly incidents. "I came from nothing and I made something out of myself," Brown commented in a New York Times interview. "I dance and I sing and I make it happen. I've made people feel better. I want people to be happy."

For More Information

Brown, James. The Godfather of Soul. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1990.

Murray, Charles Shaar. Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and the Rock 'n' Roll Revolution. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.

Rose, Cynthia. Living in America: The Soul Saga of James Brown. New York: Serpent's Tail, 1990.

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Brown, James

JAMES BROWN

Born: Barnwell, South Carolina, 3 May 1928

Genre: R&B

Best-selling album since 1990: Love Over-Due (1991)

Hit songs since 1990: "Move On," "Can't Get Any Harder"


Known variously as "The Godfather of Soul," "Soul Brother Number One," and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," James Brown is perhaps the most inventive and influential musician in rhythm and blues. Many critics have ranked him with rock pioneer Elvis Presley as a pioneering force in American popular music. Beginning his recording career in the mid-1950s, Brown helped usher in the soul era of the 1960s, spicing R&B with the sanctified cries of gospel music. By the middle to late 1960s, he was experimenting with dense, polyrhythmic structures and stripping lyrics to their barest essentials, thereby pioneering a new R&B musical style: funk. His rhythm grooves of the early 1970s were so sinuous and complex that, decades later, they helped define the sound of rap and hip-hop music. Through it all, Brown maintained the tightest, most professional band in R&B, whose ranks he oversaw with a Spartan sense of discipline. Continuing to perform his trademark dance moves and spine-chilling screams even at an age when many singers think of retiring, Brown was one of the great showmen of his era, his kinetic, dramatic stage style copied by pop stars such as Michael Jackson and Prince. After losing his commercial footing in the late 1970s, Brown rebounded in the 1980s and 1990s, less vigorous but still one of the most dynamic entertainers in music.


Early Years

Born in South Carolina but raised in Augusta, Georgia, Brown spent his early years living with relatives in a shack rented for seven dollars a month. Possessed of a steely determination that later served him well in his music career, Brown as a youth picked cotton, shined shoes, and attended school barefootall the while competing in local amateur shows. During the early 1950s, having served a prison sentence for robbery, Brown sang gospel music before setting his sights on developing an R&B band. Known eventually as James Brown and the Famous Flames, the band enjoyed its first R&B hit in 1956 with "Please Please Please," a ballad marked by Brown's hortatory, gospel-infused shouts. Throughout the 1960s Brown was never off the R&B charts, his sound becoming tougher and more frenetic as the decade progressed.


1960s and 1970s Triumphs

In 1963, against the wishes of his record company, the Cincinnati-based King Records, Brown released Live at the Apollo, a recording of one of his concerts at the famed Harlem showplace for African-American entertainment. The album, capturing Brown's high-voltage energy and brilliant interplay with his audience, was a huge seller, changing the way in which R&Bpreviously sold mostly through singleswas marketed. Lean, razor-sharp hits such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)" (both 1965), and "Cold Sweat" (1967) ushered in Brown's most productive period. Expressing solidarity with the civil rights movement, Brown also recorded stirring declarations of African-American pride such as "Say It LoudI'm Black and I'm Proud" (1968).

In the early 1970s Brown became even more energized and frantic, discarding traditional vocalizing for a series of screams, coughs, and grunts. Helped by the rhythmic exactitude of his band, Brown transformed songs such as "Hot Pants" (1971) and "Get on the Good Foot" (1972) into sexually charged exercises in tension and release. Throughout these years Brown's band never failed him, although it defected temporarily in 1969, having grown tired of his rigid control. Known as a hard taskmaster, Brown regularly fined band members for playing a note out of tune or missing a beat.


Renewed Attention in the 1980s and 1990s

Like many R&B stars of the 1950s and 1960s, Brown was hurt by the disco explosion of the late 1970s. Nevertheless, he continued to record and perform, scoring a comeback hit with "Living in America" (1986). Beginning in 1989 he served a much-publicized jail sentence for assault and battery, charges brought by his wife. Released from prison after two years, Brown again found himself at the center of musical attentionhis danceable, percussive grooves were being sampled by scores of rap and hip-hop artists. In one of many examples the rap artist Rob Base incorporated pieces of "Think (About It)," a 1972 track Brown had produced and arranged for the R&B singer Lyn Collins, into his hit "It Takes Two" (1988).

By the early 1990s this wave of interest in Brown led many critics, who previously had dismissed much of his 1970s work as tedious and repetitive, to elevate him into the highest ranks of American popular musicians. This new prominence also allowed Brown to record strong albums such as Love Over-Due (1991). On a version of R&B group Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' 1959 hit, "Teardrops on Your Letter," Brown proves that he still has plenty of his old fire, spicing the song's final moments with his trademark screams. Working with the longtime Famous Flames tenor saxophonist St. Clair Pinckney, Brown recaptures his classic sense of groove on "Standing on Higher Ground" and the hit "(So Tired of Standing Still We Got to) Move On."

Critics pointed out that Brown was now following trends rather than leading them and that his 1990s albums lacked the passion of his greatest work. These criticisms notwithstanding, Brown in his sixties sounded vital and alive. In 1995 he returned to the scene of some of his greatest triumphsthe Apollo Theatreto record Live at the Apollo 1995. Although his voice has lost some of its youthful expressiveness, Brown sounds powerful and in command on revved-up versions of former hits such as "Cold Sweat" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." While uneven, Brown's 1998 album I'm Back sports trenchant funk tracks such as "James on the Loose" and "Funk on Ah Roll," presented in three different mixes. Now past seventy, Brown maintained his arduous performance schedule, touring and releasing albums such as The Next Step (2002), on which he is reunited with longtime associate, keyboardist and vocalist Bobby Byrd.

The top-selling performer in R&B history, James Brown set new standards for endurance, stagecraft, and musical innovation throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s he gained renewed fame as a chief influence on rap and hip-hop. Never losing his sense of professionalism or power over an audience, Brown remained an influential presence in the new millennium.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Live at the Apollo (King, 1963); Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (King, 1965); Cold Sweat (King, 1967); Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud (King, 1969); Hot Pants (Polydor, 1971); Get on the Good Foot (Polydor, 1972); I'm Real (Scotti Bros., 1988); Love Over-Due (Scotti Bros., 1991); Live at the Apollo 1995 (Scotti Bros., 1995); I'm Back (Mercury, 1998); The Next Step (Red Ink, 2002).

david freeland

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Freeland, David. "Brown, James." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Brown, James

James Brown, 1933–2006, African-American rhythm-and-blues singer known as the "godfather of soul," b. Barnwell, S.C., as James Joe Brown, Jr. Abandoned by his parents, he left school in the seventh grade and turned to petty crime. After three years in reform school, Brown joined (1952) the Gospel Starlighters, which soon became the Famous Flames, the group with which he recorded his first hit, Please, Please, Please (1956). With his soulful, gravel-voiced, gospel-inflected singing style and spectacular stage presence—often screaming (on key) and dancing acrobatically—Brown was a true innovator of rhythm and blues and funk, recording such hit singles as I Got You (I Feel Good) (1965), It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World (1966), the Black Pride anthem Say It Loud (1968), and many albums, e.g., Live at the Apollo (1963) and The Payback (1974). He again hit the top of the charts with his Grammy-winning album Living in America (1985). Jailed (1988) on drug and gun charges, he was released in 1991 and resumed an active singing and recording career. Brown's vocal style has had a great influence on musicians from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, and hip-hop artists. The recipient of many music awards, in 1986 Brown was one of the original inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

See his The Godfather of Soul (1986) and I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul (2005); biography by RJ Smith (2012).

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Brown, James

Brown, James (1933– ) US singer and songwriter. An energetic performer, renowned for his dance routines, Brown is hailed as the “Godfather of Soul” and a pioneer of funk. His album Live at the Apollo (1962) is one of the best-selling pop albums of all time. Brown's hit singles include “Please, Please, Please” (1956), “Papa's Got a Brand New Bag” (1965) and “Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud” (1968).

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Brown, James

James Brown

Singer and songwriter

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, critic Robert Palmer credits James Brown with taking rhythm and blues and pulling it away from show business sophistication and back into the orbit of the black churches from which it ultimately derived. Popularly known as The Godfather of Soul, Brown was born into extreme poverty in 1933 in Georgia. While growing up, he worked every odd job he could to earn an extra buck, from picking cotton and shining shoes to boxing and semi-pro baseball, striving to become something respectable.

Browns ambitions, however, led him astray and into an 8- to 16-year stint at the Alto Reform School (Toccoa, Georgia) in 1949 for armed robbery. After three and a half years, Brown found himself and, with the help of his friend Bobby Byrd, he was paroled. Once out, Brown joined Byrds singing group, the Gospel Starlighters, which soon became the Flames and switched to rhythm and blues. Federal Records executive Ralph Bass found the group in Macon, Georgia, and brought them north to sign with his label in January of 1956. Brown soon began to assume control and renamed the band James Brown and the Famous Flames (Don Terry, Syd Keels, Nash Knox, Floyd Scott and Byrd). They released their first single that same year, Please, Please, Please. Bass told Arnold Shaw, When Syd Nathan (of the King label, a subsidiary of Federal) heard Please, Please, Please, he thought it was a piece of [crap]. He said that I was out of my mind to bring Brown from Macon to Cincinnatiand pay his fare. And we put out that first record on Federal, not King. But then after Please began to sell and made the chartsthat was in 1956Syd sang a different tune Brown was way ahead of his time. He wasnt really singing R & B. He was singing gospel to an R & B combo with a real heavy feeling He wasnt singing or playing musiche was transmitting feeling, pure feeling.

It would take another two years and ten more singles for Brown to climb the charts again. Try Me became a huge hit and helped to usher in the age of soul music. Prior to this, the band had been imitating other groups like the Midnighters, the Drifters, and the Five Royals. Realizing that their own material was just as good, Brown asked Nathan if he could record with his own touring band (the J.B.s), but was denied. So, under the name of Nat Kendrick and the Swans, they released 1960s instrumental hit (Do the) Mashed Potato on another label. Former tour manager Alan Leeds told Rolling Stone that Brown would make them suffer until they needed a James Brown record so badly that theyd take whatever he gave them. King relented and soon Brown was back with the label and recording with his own band.

For the Record

Born June 17, 1928 (some sources cite May 3, 1928; others cite May 3, 1933) in Pulaski, Tenn. (some sources cite Augusta, Ga.); mothers name, Susie; married to Adrienne Alfie Rodriguez (a hair stylist and makeup artist).

Incarcerated in Alto Reform School, Toccoa, Ga., 1949-52; was a boxer and a semi-pro baseball player, c. 1953-55; lead singer in gospel group the Gospel Starlighters, c. 1955, group changed name to Famous Fames and format to rhythm and blues, 1956, became James Brown and the Famous Flames, c. 1956. Appeared in motion picture Ski Party, 1965. Formerly owned and was president of J.B. Broadcasting, Ltd., James Brown Network, James Brown Productions, and seventeen publishing companies. Incarcerated in State Park Correctional Center, Columbia, S.C., 1988.

Awards: Winner of Grammy Award for best rhythm and blues recording, 1965, for Papas Got a Brand New Bag, and for best male rhythm and blues performance, 1986, for Living in America ; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1986.

Addresses: Home Beech Island, S.C. Current residence State Park Correctional Center, 7901 Farrow Rd., Columbia, S.C. 29203.

The Famous Flames honed their live shows to perfection by playing one-night stands throughout the South. The word took years to spread, but by 1963 James Brown Show Live at the Apollo was number 2 on Billboards album charts. The James Brown Revue had become the tightest, most spectacular rhythm and blues act ever. The musicians were fined by Brown for anything less than razor-sharp precision while Mr. Dynamite himself virtually defined the standard for showmanship.

Future performers like Mick Jagger, Otis Redding, Michael Jackson, Prince, Wilson Pickett, and Terrence Trent DArby would all borrow extensively from Browns repetoire, but no one could equal his acrobatics and sheer energy. His Please finale found him on his knees, seemingly spent, while the Flames would drape a cape over his shoulders and help to lead him offstage. But he would only get a few feet before the cape was hurled off and he fell back to the floor, gripping the microphone and pleading once again. After a few rounds of this, most audiences were literally too drained to expect any more.

By 1964 though, Brown was fed up with Kings weak promotional abilities and decided to release a batch of tunes on the more substantial Mercury label, Smash. Out of Sight was an immediate hit and Browns popularity soared as English groups began to cover his tunes and style. And, after a year-long court fight with King, Brown won the right to control almost every aspect of his career. In 1965 he recorded Papas Got a Brand New Bag, probably the epitome of Browns sound, influential not only during the 60s but the 70s as well: shucking rhythm guitars, choppy bass lines, one-chord vamps and a horn section that blasted like a roll of fire-crackers. Solos were nearly out of the question; rhythm was the key.

By 1971 Brown was managing his own career and even had his own record company. His insistence on control had both positive and negative aspects though. Brown could craft a song down to the most minute detail by actually singing the way he wanted parts to be played to each musician (and at one point the band totaled 30 members!). Sometimes he took credit for ideas he did not originate but made into his own, which has caused resentment among members like Byrd, who co-wrote many of the hits. Nevertheless, as Browns associate Bob Patton told Rolling Stone, If you took James away, the band could play the tunes, but they didnt have the spark. He made the engine run. Damn near burn it out sometimes.

During the racially-tense period of the 1960s, Brown became somewhat of a spokesman for blacks. He preached through songs like Say It LoudIm Black and Im Proud, Dont Be a Dropout, and I Dont Want Nobody to Give Me Nothin. He even received a personal thanks from President Lyndon Johnson for calming rioters down with a television appearance. His social position was elevated also by his astute business dealings, which included ownership of fast-food franchises, radio stations, a booking agency, publishing companies, and a Lear jet. He became, according to The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, the first and most potent symbol of black America.

Calling himself the Minister of New Super Heavy Funk, Brown helped create the funk music movement, spawning artists like Sly and the Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Parliment Funkadelic. Browns own style was too raw though to be lumped in with the techno-slick groups of the 1970s. And, when disco appeared later on, Brown was unable to lighten up his groove enough to get discos sense of propulsion, wrote Tom Smucker in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, but the influence he had is still very obvious. Even rap music relies heavily on Browns recordings for its samplings, and, as Brown told Rolling Stones Michael Goldberg, The music out there is only as good as my last record. Indeed, other artists need pretty good aim to shoot as well as Brown. Robert Christgau described the Revolution of the Mind LP as being so hot that anybody but JB will have trouble dancing to it.

With over 114 charted singles ( I Want You So Bad, Ill Go Crazy, I Got You (I Feel Good), Its a Mans Mans Mans World, Cold Sweat, The Popcorn, and Sex Machine are just a few) to his credit and one of the best live shows (still), Brown has earned the title of The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. He told Rock 100, I have no personal life at all. I spend all my time keeping JB together. Though he never really left the music scene, Brown was back in the spotlight with his first Top Ten pop song in 18 years with 1986s Living in America. And that same year he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But Browns personal life has received just as much attention. He reportedly owes the U.S. government $9 million in taxes and he has been alleged to beat up his wife Adrienne (she called it a publicity stunt in Rolling Stone: We sold newspapers.) But on September 24, 1988, Brown entered an insurance seminar in Augusta, Georgia, with a shotgun, which resulted in a police chase and many bullet holes in his car. The next day he was again arrested, and subsequently convicted of driving under the influence of the drug PCP. With good behavior, Brown could end his six-year term in prison by 1991. Ill tell you, its like an omen, he told Rolling Stone. As a kid in that prison, I found myself. An omen in my life. The same place I m at right now. That was the beginning of my life, in 1950. This is the beginning of my life again. An omen.

Selected discography

Sex Machine, King, 1970.

Super Bad, King, 1970.

Sho Is Funky Down Here, King, 1971.

Hot Pants, Polydor, 1971.

Revolution of the Mind, Polydor, 1971.

Soul Classics, Polydor, 1972.

There It Is, Polydor, 1972.

Get on the Good Foot, Polydor, 1972.

Black Caesar, Polydor, 1973.

Slaughters Big Rip-Off, Polydor, 1973.

Soul Classics Volume II, Polydor, 1973.

The Payback, Polydor, 1973.

Hell, Polydor, 1974.

Reality, Polydor, 1974.

Sex Machine Today, Polydor, 1975.

Everybodys Doin the Hustle and Dead on the Double Bump, Polydor, 1975.

Hot, Polydor, 1975.

Get Up Offa That Thing, Polydor, 1976.

Bodyheat, Polydor, 1976.

Muthas Nature, Polydor, 1977.

Jam/1980s, Polydor, 1978.

Take a Look at Those Cakes, Polydor, 1978.

The Original Disco Man, Polydor, 1979.

Gravity, CBS, 1986.

Im Real, CBS, 1988.

Sources

Books

Christgau, Robert, Christgaus Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.

Dalton, David, and Lenny Kaye, Rock 100, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, compiled by Nick Logan and Bob Woffinden, Harmony Books, 1976.

The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, edited by Jim Miller, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1976.

Shaw, Arnold, Honkers and Shouters, Macmillan, 1978.

Periodicals

Rolling Stone, April 6, 1989.

Calen D. Stone

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