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james brown

James Brown

b. James Joseph Brown Jr., 3rd May 1933, Barnwell, South Carolina, U.S.A.

d. 25th December 2006, Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Atlanta, U.S.A.

James Brown was a pivotal figure on the Black Music scene.

James Brown claims he was born in 1933 in Macon, Georgia although this seems to be a questionable date. Whether this is the truth or not, only James will know!

Convicted of theft at the age of 16, he was imprisoned at the Alto Reform School, but secured an early release with the help of local singer Bobby Byrd.

James later joined his group, the Gospel Starlighters, who evolved into the Flames.

In 1955, they recorded a demo of 'Please Please Please' at WIBB, a Macon, Georgia radio station.

James BrownBrown And Jagger

Local airplay was such that talent scout Ralph Bass signed the group to the King / Federal company.

A re-recorded version of the song was issued in March 1956. Credited to 'James Brown And The Famous Flames', it eventually climbed to number 5 in the US R & B list.

Further releases did less well until 1958, when 'Try Me' rose to number 1 in the same chart.

Once again Brown found it difficult to maintain this level of success, but 'I'll Go Crazy' and 'Think' (both 1960) ensured some career stability.

From thereon, until 1977, almost every 'official' single charted. However, it was an album, 'Live At The Apollo' (1962), that assuredly established the singer.

This excellent collection confirmed Brown as the voice of Black America. More than 30 years on, this album stands out as one of the greatest live sets.

His singles continued to enthrall: energetic songs such as 'Night Train' and 'Shout And Shimmy' contrasted with such slower sermons as 'I Don't Mind' and 'Bewildered', but it was the orchestrated, 'Prisoner Of Love' (1963), that gave Brown his first US top 20 pop single.

Having charted, Brown was keen to move on.

James BrownJames Brown

Dissatisfied with his record label King, he ignored contractual niceties and signed with Smash Records.

By the time his former outlet had taken legal proceedings, 'Out Of Sight' had become another national hit.

The single marked the beginning of a leaner, tighter sound that would ultimately re-structure dance music.

Throughout the 60's, Brown proclaimed an artistic freedom with increasingly unconventional songs, including 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag', 'I Got You (I Feel Good)', 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World' (with full orchestra) and 'Money Won't Change You'.

In 1967, Alfred Ellis replaced Nat Jones as Brown's musical director and 'Cold Sweat' introduced further radical refinements to the group's presentation.

With Clyde Stubblefield on drums, 'Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud' (1968), 'Mother Popcorn' (1969), and 'Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine' (1970) were each stripped down to a persistent, rhythmic riff, over which the singer soared, sometimes screaming, sometimes pleading, but always with an assertive urgency.

In 1971, Brown moved to Polydor Records and unveiled a new backing band, the JB's.

Led by Fred Wesley, it featured such seasoned players as Maceo Parker and St. Clair Pinckney, as well as a new generation of musicians.

Elsewhere, former bassist Bootsy Collins defected with other ex-members to George Clinton's Funkadelic.

He continued to enjoy substantial hits.

In 1974, he had three successive number 1 R & B singles in 'The Payback', 'My Thang' and 'Papa Don't Take No Mess (Part 1)', and Brown also scored two film soundtracks, 'Black Caesar' and 'Slaughter's Big Rip Off'.

As the decade progressed, his work became less compulsive, suffering a drop in popularity with the advent of disco.

A cameo role in the movie 'The Blues Brothers' marked time, and in 1980 Brown left the Polydor label.

Subsequent releases on such smaller labels as TK, Augusta Sound and Backstreet were only marginally successful.

Brown returned with a vengeance in 1986 (the year he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame) with 'Livin' In America', the theme song from the Rocky IV film soundtrack.

An international hit single, it was followed by two R & B Top 10 entries, 'How Do You Stop' (1987) and 'I'm Real' (1988), the latter of which inspired an album of the same name, recorded with soul outfit Full Force.

The Brown resurrection was abruptly curtailed that same year when the singer was arrested after a high-speed car chase.

Charged with numerous offences, including illegal possession of drugs and firearms, aggravated assault and failure to stop for the police, he was sentenced to six and a half years' imprisonment at the State Park Correctional Centre.

He was released in 1991, having reportedly written new material while imprisoned.

James BrownJames BrownJames Brown

Brown's considerable influence has increased with the advent of hip-hop.

New urban-based styles are indebted to the raw funk provided by 'The Godfather of Soul', while Stubblefield's rhythmic patterns, particularly those on 1970's 'Funky Drummer', have been heavily sampled, as have Brown's notorious shouts, screams and vocal improvisations.

Artists as diverse as Public Enemy, George Michael and Sinead O'Connor have featured beats taken from Brown's impressive catalogue.

During the 90's he has continued to have further problems with the law and a continuing battle to quit drugs.

In 1995, he was forced to cope with a tragic medical accident when his ex-wife Adrienne died during surgery for liposuction.

In January 1998, there were new fears for his own health, and he was treated in hospital for addiction to painkillers.

James Brown

Shortly afterwards he was arrested and charged for possession of marijuana and unlawful use of a firearm.

In December 2006, Brother James had just visited his dentist, who informed the man that something wasn't quite right healthwise, and he should seek some medical attention.

James BrownJames Brown

He was suffering from severe pneumonia and passed away at 1:45 a.m. (0645 GMT), on Christmas Day, at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta after being admitted there over that weekend in 2006, his agent, Frank Copsidas disclosed.

James Brown's body made the journey back to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, for his funeral.

As a postscript to Brother James passing, this was posted on the news networks on the 12th January 2007:

It's over two weeks since James Brown died, but his body has still not been buried, despite a public funeral in Augusta on 30 Dec, because of ongoing issues relating to the Godfather of Soul's will and estate. Until his family reach an agreement over the estate, a decision can't be made as to where Brown will be interred. According to Brown's lawyer, Buddy Dallas, the will has not yet been filed, but the singer's children will decide on the location for the burial.'

As mentioned at the beginning of this resume, James Brown was a major pivotal figure in the history of Black Music.

James Brown

His influence over dance music styles cannot be ignored. His back catalogue is second to none.

Real Player


Please, Please, Please (King 1959)

Try Me (King 1959)

Think (King 1960)

The Amazing James Brown (King 1961)

James Brown Presents His Band Night Train (King 1961)

Shout And Shimmy (King 1962)

James Brown And His Famous Flames Tour The USA (King 1962)

Excitement Mr Dynamite (King 1962)

Live At The Apollo (King 1963)

Prisoner Of Love (King 1963)

Pure Dynamite! Live At The Royal (King 1964)

Showtime (Smash 1964)

The Unbeatable James Brown (King 1964)

Grits And Soul (Smash 1964)

Out Of Sight (Smash 1964)

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (King 1965)

James Brown Plays James Brown Today And Yesterday (Smash 1965)

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

Mighty Instrumentals (King 1966)

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

Soul Brother No. 1: It's A Man's Man's Man's World (King 1966)

James Brown Sings Christmas Songs (King 1966)

Handful Of Soul (Smash 1966)

The James Brown Show (Smash 1967)

Sings Raw Soul (King 1967)

James Brown Plays The Real Thing (Smash 1967)

Live At The Garden (King 1967)

Cold Sweat (King 1967)

James Brown Presents His Show Of Tomrrow (King 1968)

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

I Got The Feelin' (King 1968)

Live At The Apollo, Volume 2 (King 1968)

James Brown Sings Out Of Sight (King 1968)

Thinking About Little Willie John And A Few Nice Things (King 1968)

A Soulful Christmas (King 1968)

Say It Loud, IÕm Black And IÕm Proud (King 1969)

Gettin' Down To It (King 1969)

The Popcorn (King 1969)

It's A Mother (King 1969)

Ain't It Funky (King 1970)

Soul On (King 1970)

It's A New Day - Let A Man Come In (King 1970)

Sex Machine (King 1970)

Hey America (King 1970)

Super Bad (King 1971)

Sho' Is Funky Down Here (King 1971)

Hot Pants (Polydor 1971)

Revolution Of The Mind Live At The Apollo, Volume 3 (Polydor 1971)

There It Is (Polydor 1972)

Get On The Good Foot (Polydor 1972)

Black Caesar (Polydor 1973)

Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (Polydor 1973)

The Payback (Polydor 1974)

Hell (Polydor 1974)

Reality (Polydor 1975)

Sex Machine Today (Polydor 1975)

Everybody's Doin' The Hustle And Dead On The Double Bump (Polydor 1975)

Hot (Polydor 1976)

Get Up Offa That Thing (Polydor 1976)

Bodyheat (Polydor 1976)

Mutha's Nature (Polydor 1977)

Jam 1980's (Polydor 1978)

Take A Look At Those Cakes (Polydor 1979)

The Original Disco Man (Polydor 1979)

People (Polydor 1980)

James Brown ... Live Hot On The One (Polydor 1980)

Soul Syndrome (TK 1980)

Nonstop! (Polydor 1981)

Live In New York (Audio Fidelity 1981)

Bring It On (Churchill 1983)

Gravity (Scotti Brothers 1986)

James Brown And Friends (Polydor 1988)

I'm Real (Scotti Brothers 1988)

Soul Session Live (Scotti Brothers 1989)

Love Over-Due (Scotti Brothers 1991)

Universal James (1993)

Funky President (1993)

Live At The Apollo 1995 (Scotti Brothers 1995)

The Next Step (CNR Records 2003)

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