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"Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" -- those are mighty titles, but no one can question that James Brown earned them more than any other performer. Other singers were more popular, others were equally skilled, but few other African-American musicians were so influential over the course of popular music. And no other musician, pop or otherwise, put on a more exciting, exhilarating stage show: Brown's performances were marvels of athletic stamina and split-second timing.
Through the gospel-impassioned fury of his vocals and the complex polyrhythms of his beats, Brown was a crucial midwife in not just one, but two revolutions in black American music. He was one of the figures most responsible for turning R&B into soul and he was, most would agree, the figure most responsible for turning soul music into the funk of the late '60s and early '70s. After the mid-'70s, he did little more than tread water artistically; his financial and drug problems eventually got him a controversial prison sentence. Yet in a sense, his music is now more influential than ever, as his voice and rhythms have been sampled on innumerable hip-hop recordings, and critics have belatedly hailed his innovations as among the most important in all of rock or soul.
Brown's rags-to-riches-to-rags story has heroic and tragic dimensions of mythic resonance. Born into poverty in the South, he ran afoul of the law by the late '40s on an armed robbery conviction. With the help of singer Bobby Byrd's family, Brown gained parole and started a gospel group with Byrd, changing their focus to R&B as the rock revolution gained steam. The Flames, as the Georgian group was known in the mid-'50s, signed to Federal/King and had a huge R&B hit right off the bat with the wrenching, churchy ballad "Please, Please, Please." By that point, the Flames had become James Brown & the Famous Flames; the charisma, energy, and talent of Brown made him the natural star attraction.
All of Brown's singles over the next two years flopped, as he sought to establish his own style, recording material that was obviously derivative of heroes like Roy Brown, Hank Ballard, Little Richard, and Ray Charles. In retrospect, it can be seen that Brown was in the same position as dozens of other R&B one-shot: talented singers in need of better songs, or not fully on the road to a truly original sound. What made Brown succeed where hundreds of others failed was his superhuman determination, working the chitlin circuit to death, sharpening his band, and keeping an eye on new trends. He was on the verge of being dropped from King in late 1958 when his perseverance finally paid off, as "Try Me" became a number one R&B (and small pop) hit, and several follow-ups established him as a regular visitor to the R&B charts.
Brown's style of R&B got harder as the '60s began; he added more complex, Latin- and jazz-influenced rhythms on hits like "Good Good Lovin'," "I'll Go Crazy," "Think," and "Night Train," alternating these with torturous ballads that featured some of the most frayed screaming to be heard outside of the church. Black audiences already knew that Brown had the most exciting live act around, but he truly started to become a phenomenon with the release of Live at the Apollo in 1963. Capturing a James Brown concert in all its whirling-dervish energy and calculated spontaneity, the album reached number two on the album charts, an unprecedented feat for a hardcore R&B LP.
Live at the Apollo was recorded and released against the wishes of the King label. It was this kind of artistic standoff that led Brown to seek better opportunities elsewhere. In 1964, he ignored his King contract to record "Out of Sight" for Smash, igniting a lengthy legal battle that prevented him from issuing vocal recordings for about a year. When he finally resumed recording for King in 1965, he had a new contract that granted him far more artistic control over his releases.
Brown's new era had truly begun, however, with "Out of Sight," which topped the R&B charts and made the pop Top 40. For some time, Brown had been moving toward more elemental lyrics that threw in as many chants and screams as they did words, and more intricate beats and horn charts that took some of their cues from the ensemble work of jazz outfits. "Out of Sight" wasn't called funk when it came out, but it had most of the essential ingredients. These were amplified and perfected on 1965's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," a monster that finally broke Brown to the white audience, reaching the Top Ten. The even more adventurous follow-up, "I Got You (I Feel Good)," did even better, making number three.
These hits kicked off Brown's period of greatest commercial success and public visibility. From 1965 to the end of the decade, he was rarely off the R&B charts, often on the pop listings, and all over the concert circuit and national television, even meeting with Vice President Hubert Humphrey and other important politicians as a representative of the black community. His music became even bolder and funkier, as melody was dispensed with almost altogether in favor of chunky rhythms and magnetic interplay between his vocals, horns, drums, and scratching electric guitar (heard to best advantage on hits like "Cold Sweat," "I Got the Feelin'," and "There Was a Time"). The lyrics were not so much words as chanted, stream-of-consciousness slogans, often aligning themselves with black pride as well as good old-fashioned (or new-fashioned) sex. Much of the credit for the sound he devised belonged to (and has now been belatedly attributed to) his top-notch supporting musicians such as saxophonists Maceo Parker, St. Clair Pinckney, and Pee Wee Ellis; guitarist Jimmy Nolen; backup singer and longtime loyal associate Bobby Byrd; and drummer Clyde Stubblefield.
Brown was both a brilliant bandleader and a stern taskmaster, the latter leading his band to walk out on him in late 1969. Amazingly, he turned the crisis to his advantage by recruiting a young Cincinnati outfit called the Pacemakers featuring guitarist Catfish Collins and bassist Bootsy Collins. Although they only stayed with him for about a year, they were crucial to Brown's evolution into even harder funk, emphasizing the rhythm and the bottom even more. The Collins brothers, for their part, put their apprenticeship to good use, helping define '70s funk as members of the Parliament-Funkadelic axis.
In the early '70s, many of the most important members of Brown's late-'60s band returned to the fold, to be billed as the J.B.'s (they also made records on their own). Brown continued to score heavily on the R&B charts throughout the first half of the '70s, the music becoming more and more elemental and beat-driven. At the same time, he was retreating from the white audience he had cultivated during the mid- to late '60s; records like "Make It Funky," "Hot Pants," "Get on the Good Foot," and "The Payback" were huge soul sellers, but only modest pop ones. Critics charged, with some justification, that the Godfather was starting to repeat and recycle himself too many times. It must be remembered, though, that these songs were made for the singles radio jukebox market and not meant to be played one after the other on CD compilations (as they are today).
By the mid-'70s, Brown was beginning to burn out artistically. He seemed shorn of new ideas, was being out-gunned on the charts by disco, and was running into problems with the IRS and his financial empire. There were sporadic hits, and he could always count on enthusiastic live audiences, but by the '80s, he didn't have a label. With the explosion of rap, however, which frequently sampled vintage J.B.'s records, Brown became hipper than ever. He collaborated with Afrika Bambaataa on the critical smash single "Unity" and reentered the Top Ten in 1986 with "Living in America." Rock critics, who had always ranked Brown considerably below Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin in the soul canon, began to reevaluate his output, particularly the material from his funk years, sometimes anointing him not just "Soul Brother Number One," but the most important black musician of the rock era.
In 1988, Brown's personal life came crashing down in a well-publicized incident in which he was accused by his wife of assault and battery. After a year skirting hazy legal and personal troubles, he led the police on an interstate car chase after allegedly threatening people with a handgun. The episode ended in a six-year prison sentence that many felt was excessive; he was paroled after serving two years.
Throughout the '90s Brown continued to perform and release new material like Love Over-Due (1991), Universal James (1992), and I'm Back (1998). While none of these recordings could be considered as important as his earlier work and did little to increase his popularity, his classic catalog became more popular in the American mainstream during this time than it had been since the '70s, and not just among young rappers and samplers. One of the main reasons for this was a proper presentation of his recorded legacy. For a long time, his cumbersome, byzantine discography was mostly out of print, with pieces available only on skimpy greatest-hits collections. A series of exceptionally well-packaged reissues on PolyGram changed that situation; the Star Time box set is the best overview, with other superb compilations devoted to specific phases of his lengthy career, from '50s R&B to '70s funk.
In 2004, Brown was diagnosed with prostate cancer but successfully fought the disease. By 2006, it was in remission and Brown, then 73, began a global tour dubbed the Seven Decades of Funk World Tour. Late in the year while at a routine dentist appointment, the singer was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital for treatment but died of heart failure a few days later, in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. A public viewing was held at Apollo Theater in Harlem, followed by a private ceremony in his hometown of Augusta, GA.
Wikipedia:For other people named James Brown, see James Brown (disambiguation).
James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American recording artist and musician. One of the founding fathers of funk music and a major figure of 20th-century popular music and dance, he is often referred to as "The Godfather of Soul". In a career that spanned six decades, Brown influenced the development of several music genres.
Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia. Joining an R&B vocal group called the Avons that later evolved to become The Famous Flames, Brown served as the group's lead singer. First coming to national public attention in the late 1950s as a member of The Flames with the ballads "Please, Please, Please" and "Try Me", Brown built a reputation as a tireless live performer with the singing group The Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra. Brown's success peaked in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", "I Got You" and "It's a Man's Man's Man's World". During the late 1960s, Brown moved from a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly "Africanized" approach to music-making that influenced the development of funk music. By the early 1970s, Brown had fully established the funk sound after the formation of The J.B.'s with records such as "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" and "The Payback". Brown also became notable for songs of social commentary, including the 1968 hit "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud". Brown continued to perform and record for the duration of his life until his death in 2006 from congestive heart failure.
Brown recorded 16 number-one singles on the Billboard R&B charts. Brown also holds the record as the artist to have charted the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 which did not reach number one on that chart. Brown was honored by many institutions including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Joel Whitburn's analysis of the Billboard R&B charts from 1942 to 2010, Hot R&B Songs, James Brown is ranked as number one in The Top 500 Artists. Brown is ranked seventh on the music magazine Rolling Stone's list of its 100 greatest artists of all time.Cite error: The named reference jbbirthname was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Wiegand, D. (December 26, 2006). James Brown: 1928–2006 – Godfather of soul changed music at frenetic pace. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 10, 2007. "The Famous Flames Biography | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Rockhall.com. Retrieved February 16, 2013. "James Brown Biography | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Rockhall.com. Retrieved February 16, 2013. Collins, W. (January 29, 2002). James Brown. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Retrieved January 12, 2007. Whitburn 2010, p. 89. Cite error: The named reference rsfunk was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Whitburn, J. (2000). Top Pop Singles: 1955–1999, 900. Menonite Falls, WI: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-140-3. "Songwriters Hall of Fame – James Brown Recordings". Retrieved July 19, 2012. Whitburn 2010, p. 873. ""100 Greatest Artists Of All Time"-7. James Brown"". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2014-04-11.
James Brown was born on May 3, 1933, in Barnwell, South Carolina, to 16-year-old Susie (née Behling; 1917–2003) and 22-year-old Joseph "Joe" Gardner Brown (1911–1993) in a small wooden shack. Brown's name was supposed to have been Joseph James Brown, Jr.; however, his first and middle names were mistakenly reversed on his birth certificate. Brown later legally changed his name to remove the "Jr." designation. His parents were both African-American; in his autobiography, Brown stated that he also had Chinese and Native American ancestry. The Brown family lived in extreme poverty in nearby Elko, South Carolina, which was an impoverished town at the time. They later relocated to Augusta, Georgia, when Brown was four or five. Brown's family first settled at one of his aunts' brothels and later moved into a house shared with another aunt. Brown's mother later left the family after a contentious marriage and moved to New York. Brown spent long stretches of time on his own, hanging out in the streets and hustling to get by. Brown managed to stay in school until sixth grade.
Brown began singing in talent shows as a young child, first appearing at Augusta's Lenox Theater in 1944, winning the show after singing the ballad "So Long". While in Augusta, Brown performed buck dances for change to entertain troops from Camp Gordon at the start of World War II as their convoys traveled over a canal bridge from near his aunt's home. Brown learned how to play piano, guitar and harmonica during this period. Brown became inspired to become an entertainer after seeing footage of Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five performing "Caldonia" in a short film. During his teen years, Brown briefly had a career as a boxer. At 16, Brown was convicted of robbery and was sent to a juvenile detention center in Toccoa. Brown formed a gospel quartet with four fellow cellmates, including Johnny Terry. Stories differ as to how Brown was eventually paroled, including a story that Bobby Byrd's family had helped to secure an early release, while another stated that Brown got his parole after a car and motor manufacturing company owner, S.C. Lawson, agreed to be a sponsor after Brown had promised to look for a job guaranteed for two years. Brown was paroled on June 14, 1952. Upon his release, Brown joined a gospel group and worked at several jobs, including the Lawson Motor Company and as a janitor at a local school. Brown and Bobby Byrd reportedly met following his release from prison and the two became friends."Ancestry of James Brown". Retrieved July 19, 2012. James Brown. (1998). Notable Black American Men. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale (Document no. K1622000047). Retrieved January 12, 2007, from the Biography Resource Center database. Brown, J. & Eliot, M. (introduction). (2005). I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life Soul. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0-451-21393-9. "Not_Available". Worldcat.org. Retrieved February 16, 2013. Hirshey, G. Funk's founding father. (January 10, 2007). Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 27, 2007. Rhodes 2008, p. 8. Rhodes 2008. Rhodes 2008, p. 11. Kowalski, E. (December 25, 2006). "Godfather of soul, James Brown, dead at 73", Voice of America. Retrieved January 12, 2007. Rhodes 2008, p. 13. Rhodes 2008, p. 15. Rhodes 2008, p. 16. Rhodes 2008, p. 18. Rhodes 2008, p. 17.
ContentsMusic career1.1 The Famous Flames1.2 Mr. Dynamite1.3 Soul Brother No. 11.4 Godfather of Soul1.5 Decline and resurgence1.6 Final years
The Famous FlamesMain article: The Famous Flames
Brown joined Byrd's group, which highlighted under two names, as an a cappella gospel group called the Gospel Starlighters, and an R&B band known as the Avons. Brown had allegedly joined the band after one of the group's members, Troy Collins, was killed. With Brown and Byrd, the group consisted of Sylvester Keels, Doyle Oglesby, Fred Pulliam, Nash Knox and Nafloyd Scott. Influenced by R&B groups such as Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, The Orioles and Billy Ward and his Dominoes, the group changed their name, first to the Toccoa Band, and then to the Flames. Nafloyd's brother Baroy later joined the group on bass guitar and Brown, Byrd and Keels switched lead positions and instruments, often playing drums and piano. Johnny Terry later joined while Pulliam and Oglesby had long left.
Berry Trimier became the group's initial manager booking them at parties near college campuses in the Georgia and South Carolina areas. The group had already gained a reputation for being a live act when they renamed themselves the "Famous Flames". By 1955, the group had gotten in contact with Little Richard, who Brown idolized, while performing in Macon. Richard convinced the group to get in contact with Richard's manager at the time, Clint Brantley, at his nightclub. Brantley agreed to manage them after seeing the group audition for them. Brantley then sent them to a local radio station to record a demo session, where they performed their own composition "Please, Please, Please", which was inspired when Little Richard wrote the words of the title on a napkin and Brown was determined to make a song out of it. The Famous Flames eventually signed with King Records' Federal subsidiary in Cincinnati, Ohio and issued a re-recorded version of "Please, Please, Please" in March 1956. The song became the group's first R&B hit, selling over a million copies. None of their follow-ups produced similar success. By 1957, Brown had replaced Clint Brantley as manager and hired Ben Bart, chief of the Universal Attractions Agency. That year, the original Flames broke up after Bart changed the name of the group to "James Brown and The Famous Flames".
In October 1958, Brown released the ballad, "Try Me", which hit number-one on the R&B chart in the beginning of 1959, becoming the first of seventeen chart-topping R&B hits. Shortly afterwards, Brown recruited his first band, led by J. C. Davis and reunited with Bobby Byrd, who joined a revived Famous Flames lineup that included Eugene "Baby" Lloyd Stallworth and Bobby Bennett, with Johnny Terry sometimes coming in as the "fifth Flame". Brown,The Flames, and his entire band debuted at the Apollo Theater on April 24, 1959, opening for Little Willie John. Federal Records issued two albums credited to Brown and the Famous Flames. By 1960, Brown began multi-tasking in the recording studio involving himself, the Famous Flames and his band, sometimes named the James Brown Orchestra or the James Brown Band. That year, the band recorded the top ten R&B hit, "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" on Dade Records, owned by Henry Stone, under the pseudonym "Nat Kendrick & The Swans", due to label issues. As a result of its success, King president Syd Nathan shifted Brown's contract from Federal to King. While under King, Brown, under the Famous Flames lineup, released the album, Think! and the following year, released two albums with the James Brown Band earning second billing. With the Famous Flames, Brown sung lead on several more hits including "I'll Go Crazy" and "Think", songs that hinted at his emerging style.
By 1962, Brown scored a hit with his band with their cover of the instrumental, "Night Train", becoming not only a top five R&B single but also Brown's first top 40 entry on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year, the ballads, "Lost Someone" and "Baby You're Right", the latter a Joe Tex composition, added to his repertoire and increased his reputation with R&B audiences. On October 24, 1962, Brown financed a live recording of a performance at the Apollo and convinced Syd Nathan to release the album, despite Nathan's beliefs that no one bought live albums due to the fact that Brown's singles were already bought and that live albums were usually bad sellers.
Live at the Apollo was released the following June and became an immediate hit, eventually reaching number two on the Top LPs chart and selling over a million copies, staying on the charts for 14 months. In 1963, Brown scored his first top 20 pop hit with his rendition of the standard, "Prisoner of Love". He also launched his first label, Try Me Records, which included recordings by the likes of Tammy Montgomery (later to be famous as Tammi Terrell), Johnny & Bill (Famous Flames associates Johnny Terry and Bill Hollings) and the Poets, which was another name used for Brown's backing band.
In 1964, seeking bigger commercial success, Brown and Bobby Byrd formed the production company, Fair Deal, linking the operation to the Mercury imprint, Smash Records. King Records, however, fought against this and was granted an injunction preventing Brown from releasing any recordings for the label. Prior to the injunction, Brown had released three vocal singles, including the blues-oriented hit, "Out of Sight", which further indicated the direction his music was going to take. Touring throughout the year, Brown and the Famous Flames grabbed more national attention after giving an explosive show-stopping performance on the live concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show. The Flames' polished choreography and timing as well as Brown's energetic dance moves and high-octane vocals upstaged the show from proposed closing act, The Rolling Stones. With a new deal with King, Brown released his composition, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", which became his first top ten pop hit and won Brown his first Grammy Award. Later in 1965, Brown issued "I Got You", which became his second single in a row to reach number-one on the R&B chart and top ten on the pop chart. Brown followed that up with the ballad, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" which confirmed his stance as a top-ranking performer, especially with R&B audiences from that point on.
Soul Brother No. 1
By 1967, Brown's emerging sound had begun to be defined as funk music. That year, he released what some critics cited as the first true funk song, "Cold Sweat", which hit number-one on the R&B chart and became one of his first recordings to contain a drum break and also the first that featured a harmony that was reduced to a single chord. The instrumental arrangements on tracks such as "Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose" and "Licking Stick-Licking Stick" (both recorded in 1968) and "Funky Drummer" (recorded in 1969) featured a more developed version of Brown's mid-1960s style, with the horn section, guitars, bass and drums meshed together in intricate rhythmic patterns based on multiple interlocking riffs.
Changes in Brown's style that started with "Cold Sweat" also established the musical foundation for Brown's later hits, such as "I Got the Feelin'" (1968) and "Mother Popcorn" (1969). By this time Brown's vocals frequently took the form of a kind of rhythmic declamation, not quite sung but not quite spoken, that only intermittently featured traces of pitch or melody. This would become a major influence on the techniques of rapping, which would come to maturity along with hip hop music in the coming decades. Brown's style of funk in the late 1960s was based on interlocking syncopated parts: funky bass lines, drum patterns, and iconic guitar riffs. The main guitar ostinatos for "Ain't It Funky" and "Give It Up or Turn It Loose" (both 1969), are examples of Brown's refinement of New Orleans funk; irresistibly danceable riffs, stripped down to their rhythmic essence. On both recordings the tonal structure is bare bones. The pattern of attack-points is the emphasis, not the pattern of pitches. It's as if the guitar is an African drum, or idiophone. Alexander Stewart states that this popular feel was passed along from "New Orleans—through James Brown's music, to the popular music of the 1970s." Those same tracks were later resurrected by countless hip-hop musicians from the 1970s onward. As a result, James Brown remains to this day the world's most sampled recording artist, with "Funky Drummer" itself becoming the most sampled individual piece of music. "Bring it Up" has an Afro-Cuban guajeo-like structure. In fact, on a 1976 version, Cuban bongos are used. All three of these guitar riffs are based on an onbeat/offbeat structure. Stewart states: "This model, it should be noted, is different from a time line (such as clave and tresillo) in that it is not an exact pattern, but more of a loose organizing principle."
It was around this time as the musician's popularity increased that he acquired the nickname, "Soul Brother No. 1", after failing to win the title "King of Soul" from Solomon Burke during a Chicago gig two years prior. Brown's recordings during this period influenced musicians across the industry, most notably groups such as Sly and the Family Stone, Funkadelic, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s as well as vocalists such as Edwin Starr, David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards from The Temptations, and Michael Jackson, who, throughout his career, cited Brown as his ultimate idol.
Brown's band during this period employed musicians and arrangers who had come up through the jazz tradition. He was noted for his ability as a bandleader and songwriter to blend the simplicity and drive of R&B with the rhythmic complexity and precision of jazz. Trumpeter Lewis Hamlin and saxophonist/keyboardist Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis (the successor to previous bandleader Nat Jones) led the band. Guitarist Jimmy Nolen provided percussive, deceptively simple riffs for each song, and Maceo Parker's prominent saxophone solos provided a focal point for many performances. Other members of Brown's band included stalwart Famous Flames singer and sideman Bobby Byrd, drummers John "Jabo" Starks, Clyde Stubblefield and Melvin Parker, saxophonist St. Clair Pinckney, trombonist Fred Wesley, guitarist Alphonso "Country" Kellum and bassist Bernard Odum.
In addition to a torrent of singles and studio albums, Brown's output during this period included two more successful live albums, Live at the Garden (1967) and Live at the Apollo, Volume II (1968), and a 1968 television special, James Brown: Man to Man. His music empire expanded along with his influence on the music scene. As Brown's music empire grew, his desire for financial and artistic independence grew as well. Brown bought radio stations during the late 1960s, including WRDW in his native Augusta, where he shined shoes as a boy. In November 1967, James Brown purchased radio station WGYW in Knoxville, Tennessee for a reported $75,000, according to the January 20, 1968 Record World magazine. The call letters were changed to WJBE reflecting his initials. WJBE began on January 15, 1968 and broadcast a Rhythm & Blues format. The station slogan was "WJBE 1430 Raw Soul". Brown also bought WEBB in Baltimore in 1970.
Brown branched out to make several recordings with musicians outside his own band. In an attempt to appeal to the older, more affluent, and predominantly white adult contemporary audience, Brown recorded Gettin' Down To It (1969) and Soul on Top (1970)--two albums consisting mostly of romantic ballads, jazz standards, and homologous reinterpretations of his earlier hits—with the Dee Felice Trio and the Louie Bellson Orchestra. In 1968, he recorded a number of funk-oriented tracks with The Dapps, a white Cincinnati band, including the hit "I Can't Stand Myself". He also released three albums of Christmas music with his own band.
Godfather of SoulMain article: The J.B.'s
In March 1970, most of Brown's mid-to-late 1960s road band walked out on him due to money disputes, a development augured by the prior disbandment of The Famous Flames singing group for the same reason in 1968. Brown and erstwhile Famous Flames singer Bobby Byrd (who elected to remain in the band during this tumultuous period) subsequently recruited several members of the Cincinnati-based The Pacemakers, which included Bootsy Collins and his brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins; augmented by the remaining members of the 1960s road band (including Fred Wesley, who rejoined Brown's outfit in December 1970) and other newer musicians, they would form the nucleus of The J.B.'s, Brown's new backing ensemble. Shortly following their first performance together, the band entered the studio to record the Brown-Byrd composition, "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine"; the song and other contemporaneous singles would further concretize Brown's influence in the nascent genre of funk music. This iteration of the J.B.'s dissolved after a March 1971 European tour (documented on the 1991 archival release Love Power Peace) due to additional money disputes and Bootsy Collins' use of LSD; the Collins brothers would soon become integral members of Parliament-Funkadelic, while a new lineup of the J.B.'s coalesced around Wesley, St. Clair Pinckney, and drummer John Starks.
In 1971, Brown began recording for Polydor Records which also took over distribution of Brown's King Records catalog. Many of his sidemen and supporting players, including Andre Beeka, Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s, Bobby Byrd, Lyn Collins, Vicki Anderson and former rival Hank Ballard, released records on the People label, an imprint founded by Brown that was purchased by Polydor as part of Brown's new contract. The recordings on the People label, almost all of which were produced by Brown himself, exemplified his "house style". Songs such as "I Know You Got Soul" by Bobby Byrd, "Think" by Lyn Collins and "Doing It to Death" by Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s are considered as much a part of Brown's recorded legacy as the recordings released under his own name. That year, he also began touring African countries and was received well by audiences there. During the 1972 presidential election, James Brown openly proclaimed his support of Richard Nixon for reelection of the presidency over Democratic candidate George McGovern. The decision led to a boycott of his performances and, according to Brown, cost him a big portion of his black audience. As a result Brown's record sales and concerts in the United States reached a lull in 1973 as he failed to land a number-one R&B single that year. Brown relied more on touring outside the United States where he continued to perform for sold-out crowds in cities such as London, Paris and Lausanne. That year, Brown also faced problems with the IRS for failure to pay back taxes, charging he hadn't paid upwards of $4.5 million, five years earlier, the IRS claimed he owed nearly $2 million.
In 1973, Brown provided the score for the blaxploitation film Black Caesar. He also recorded another soundtrack for the film, Slaughter's Big Rip-Off. Following the release of these soundtracks, Brown acquired a self-styled nickname, "The Godfather of Soul", which remains his most popular nickname. In 1974, he returned to the No. 1 spot on the R&B charts with "The Payback", with the parent album reaching the same spot on the album charts; he would reach No. 1 two more times in 1974 including "My Thang" and "Papa Don't Take No Mess". Later that year, he returned to Africa and performed in Kinshasa as part of the buildup to The Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Admirers of Brown's music, including Miles Davis and other jazz musicians, began to cite Brown as a major influence on their own styles. However, Brown, like others who were influenced by his music, also "borrowed" from other musicians. His 1976 single "Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)" (R&B #31) used the main riff from "Fame" by David Bowie, not the other way around as was often believed. The riff was provided to "Fame" co-writers John Lennon and Bowie by guitarist Carlos Alomar, who had briefly been a member of Brown's band in the late 1960s.
Brown's "Papa Don't Take No Mess" would be his final single to reach the No. 1 spot on the R&B charts and his final Top 40 pop single of the 1970s, though Brown continued to occasionally have Top 10 R&B recordings. Among his top ten R&B hits during this latter period included "Funky President" and "Get Up Offa That Thing", the latter song released in 1976 and aimed at musical rivals such as Barry White, The Ohio Players and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Brown credited his then-second wife and two of their children as writers of the song to avoid concurrent tax problems with the IRS. Starting in October 1975, Brown produced, directed, and hosted Future Shock, an Atlanta-based television variety show which ran for three years.
Decline and resurgence
Although his records were mainstays of the vanguard New York underground disco scene exemplified by DJs such as David Mancuso and Francis Grasso from 1969 onwards, Brown did not consciously yield to the trend until 1975's Sex Machine Today. By 1977, he was no longer a dominant force in R&B. After "Get Up Offa That Thing", thirteen of Brown's late 1970s recordings for Polydor failed to reach the Top 10 of the R&B chart, with only "Bodyheat" in 1976 and the disco-oriented "It's Too Funky in Here" in 1979 reaching the R&B Top 15 and the ballad "Kiss in '77" reaching the Top 20. After 1976's "Bodyheat", he also failed to appear on the Billboard Hot 100. As a result, Brown's concert attendance began dropping and reported disputes with the IRS caused Brown's empire to collapse. In addition, Brown's former band mates, including Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and the Collins brothers, had found bigger success as members of George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic collective. The emergence of disco also stopped Brown's success on the R&B charts as its slicker commercial style had superseded his rawer funk productions.
By the release of 1979's The Original Disco Man, Brown was not providing much production or writing, leaving most of it to producer Brad Shapiro, resulting in the song "It's Too Funky in Here" becoming Brown's most successful single in this period. After two more albums failed to chart, Brown left Polydor in 1981. It was around this time that Brown changed the name of his band from the J.B.'s to the Soul Generals (or Soul G's). This band's name remained that way until his death. Despite a decline in record sales, Brown enjoyed something of a resurgence in this period starting with appearances in the feature films The Blues Brothers, Doctor Detroit and Rocky IV, as well as guest starring in the Miami Vice episode "Missing Hours" (1987). In 1984, Brown teamed with rap musician Afrika Bambaattaa on the song "Unity". A year later he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and issued the moderately successful album, Gravity, in 1986. It included Brown's final Top 10 pop hit, "Living in America", marking his first Top 40 entry since 1974 and his first Top 10 pop entry since 1968. Produced and written by Dan Hartman, it was also featured prominently on the Rocky IV film and soundtrack. Brown performed the song in the film at Apollo Creed's final fight, shot in the Ziegfeld Room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and was credited in the film as "The Godfather of Soul." 1986 also saw the publication of Brown's autobiography, James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, co-written with Bruce Tucker. In 1987, Brown won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Living in America".
In 1988, Brown worked with the production team Full Force on the new jack swing-influenced album I'm Real. It spawned his final two Top 10 R&B hits, "I'm Real" and "Static", which peaked at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively, on the R&B charts. Meanwhile, the drum break from the second version of the original 1969 hit "Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose" (the recording included on the compilation album In the Jungle Groove) became so popular at hip hop dance parties (especially for breakdance) during the late 1970s and early 1980s that hip hop founding father Kurtis Blow called the song "the national anthem of hip hop".
After his stint in prison during the late 1980s, Brown met Larry Fridie and Thomas Hart who produced the first James Brown biopic titled James Brown: The Man, the Message, the Music, released in 1992. James Brown returned with the album Love Over-Due in 1991. It included the single "(So Tired of Standing Still We Got to) Move On", which peaked at No. 48 on the R&B chart. His former record label Polydor also released the four-CD box set, Star Time, spanning Brown's career to date. Brown's release from prison also prompted his former record labels to reissue his albums on CD, featuring additional tracks and commentary by music critics and historians. That same year, Brown appeared on rapper MC Hammer's video for "Too Legit to Quit". Hammer had been noted, alongside Big Daddy Kane, for bringing Brown's unique stage shows and their own energetic dance moves to the hip-hop generation, with both Hammer and Kane listing Brown as their idol. Both musicians also sampled Brown's work, with Hammer having sampled the rhythms from "Super Bad" for his song, "Here Comes the Hammer", from his best-selling album, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. Before the year was over, Brown, who had immediately returned to work with his band following his release, organized a pay-per-view concert following a show at Los Angeles' Wiltern Theatre, that was well received.
Brown continued making recordings. In 1993, his album Universal James was released. It included his final Billboard charting single, "Can't Get Any Harder", which peaked at No. 76 on the US R&B chart and reached No. 59 on the UK chart. Its brief charting in the UK was probably due to the success of a remixed version of "I Feel Good" featuring Dakeyne. Brown also released the singles, "How Long" and "Georgia-Lina", which failed to chart. In 1995 Brown returned to the Apollo and recorded Live at the Apollo 1995. It included a studio track titled "Respect Me", which was released as a single; again it failed to chart. Brown's final studio albums, I'm Back and The Next Step, were released in 1998 and 2002 respectively. I'm Back featured the song "Funk on Ah Roll", which peaked at No. 40 in the UK but did not chart in his native US. The Next Step included Brown's final single, "Killing Is Out, School Is In". Both albums were produced by Derrick Monk. Brown's concert success, however, remained unabated and Brown kept up with a grueling schedule throughout the remainder of his life, living up to his previous nickname, "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business", in spite of his advanced age. In 2003, Brown participated in the PBS American Masters television documentary James Brown: Soul Survivor, which was directed by Jeremy Marre.
Brown celebrated his status as an icon by appearing in a variety of entertainment and sports events, including an appearance on the WCW pay-per-view event, SuperBrawl X, where he danced alongside wrestler Ernest "The Cat" Miller, who based his character on Brown, during his in-ring skit with The Maestro. Brown was then featured in Tony Scott's short film, Beat the Devil, in 2001. Brown was featured alongside Clive Owen, Gary Oldman, Danny Trejo, and Marilyn Manson. Brown also made a cameo appearance in the 2002 Jackie Chan film The Tuxedo, in which Chan was required to finish Brown's act after Brown was accidentally knocked out by Chan. In 2002, Brown appeared in Undercover Brother, playing himself.
The beginning of 2005 saw the publication of Brown's second book, I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul, written with Marc Eliot. In February and March he participated in recording sessions for an intended studio album with Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, and other longtime collaborators. Though he lost interest in the album, which remains unreleased, a track from the sessions, "Gut Bucket", appeared on a compilation CD included with the August 2006 issue of MOJO. He appeared at Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push, the final Live 8 concert on July 6, 2005, where he performed a duet with British pop star Will Young on "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag". He also performed a duet with another British pop star, Joss Stone, a week earlier on the United Kingdom chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Before his death, Brown was scheduled to perform a duet with singer Annie Lennox on the song "Vengeance" for her new album Venus, which was released in 2007. In 2006, Brown continued his "Seven Decades of Funk World Tour", his last concert tour where he performed all over the world. His final U.S. performances were in San Francisco on August 20, 2006, as headliner at the Festival of the Golden Gate (Foggfest) on the Great Meadow at Fort Mason. The following day, August 21, he performed at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, at a small theatre (800 seats) on campus. His last shows were greeted with positive reviews, and one of his final concert appearances at the Irish Oxegen festival in Punchestown in 2006 was performed for a record crowd of 80,000 people. He played a full concert as part of the BBC's Electric Proms on October 27, 2006, at The Roundhouse, supported by The Zutons, with special appearances from Max Beasley and The Sugababes. Brown's last televised appearance was at his induction into the UK Music Hall of Fame in November 2006, before his death the following month.Rhodes 2008, p. 17. "Trace the birth of funk back to James Brown". Goldmine Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2012. Rhodes 2008, p. 18. Rhodes 2008, p. 24. Rhodes 2008, p. 19. Rhodes 2008, p. 21. White 2003, pp. 228. "Mick Jagger on Get On Up, his movie about James Brown - Irish Mirror Online". irishmirror. Retrieved October 3, 2014. Rhodes 2008, p. 22. Rhodes 2008, p. 25. Merlis 2002, p. foreword. "News from Macon and Warner Robins, GA, and beyond - The Telegraph". Retrieved October 3, 2014. White, Cliff (1991). Discography. In Star Time (p. 55) [CD liner notes]. London: Polydor Records. Rhodes 2008, p. 29. "Inductees: James Brown, performer". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Retrieved January 9, 2007. Rhodes 2008, p. 33. "Nat Kendrick & The Swans.". Henry Stone Music, Inc. Retrieved January 28, 2007. Guralnick, P. (1986). Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, 235. New York: Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-452-26697-1. James Brown: Biography. (2006). All Media Guide. Retrieved November 22, 2006. "The History of Rock 'n' Roll: The Golden Decade 1954–1963". Retrieved February 25, 2007. James Brown interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970) George, N. (1988). The Death of Rhythm & Blues, 101. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-55238-5. Vincent, R. & Clinton, G. (1996). Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One, 123. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-13499-1. Slutsky, Allan, Chuck Silverman (1997). The Funkmasters-the Great James Brown Rhythm Sections. ISBN 1576234436 Stewart, Alexander (2000: 306). "Funky Drummer: New Orleans, James Brown and the Rhythmic Transformation of American Popular Music." Popular Music, v. 19, n. 3. Oct. 2000, p. 293-318. "James Brown's Sample-Based Music and Cover Songs". WhoSampled. Retrieved September 19, 2009. Most sampled songs and Most sampled artists. The-Breaks.com. Retrieved December 30, 2006. Stewart (2000: 306). Peter Guralnick, "Song of Solomon", The Boston Phoenix (March 6, 1984), Section 3:3. "James Brown – Jackson Attends Brown's Public Funeral". Retrieved July 20, 2012. "James Brown – Soul Survivor | American Masters". PBS. October 29, 2003. Retrieved October 28, 2011. Brown, James, with Bruce Tucker. James Brown: The Godfather of Soul (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company,1986), 233 Cite error: The named reference jbencyclopedia was invoked but never defined (see the help page). The Whole Note: Under the Radar in '06. (2006). All Media Guide. Retrieved January 9, 2007. Liner notes – Kurtis Blow presents: The History of Rap, Vol. 1. Rhino Records. Retrieved January 9, 2007. Beat the Devil. (2002). Internet Movie Database Inc. (IMDb). Retrieved January 9, 2007. Full cast and crew for The Tuxedo. (2002). Internet Movie Database Inc. (IMDb). Retrieved January 9, 2007. "Portfolio - Features". Charles Thomson. Retrieved 2014-02-12. "Electric Proms - James Brown The Godfather of Soul". BBC. 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2014-04-11.
ContentsJames Brown Revue1.1 Concert introduction1.2 Concert repertoire and format1.3 Cape routine1.4 As band leader
James Brown Revue
For many years, Brown's touring show was one of the most extravagant productions in American popular music. At the time of Brown's death, his band included three guitarists, two bass guitar players, two drummers, three horns and a percussionist. The bands that he maintained during the late 1960s and 1970s were of comparable size, and the bands also included a three-piece amplified string section that played during the ballads. Brown employed between 40 and 50 people for the James Brown Revue, and members of the revue traveled with him in a bus to cities and towns all over the country, performing upwards of 330 shows a year with almost all of the shows as one-nighters.
Before James Brown appeared on stage, his personal MC gave him an elaborate introduction accompanied by drumrolls, as the MC worked in Brown's various sobriquets along with the names of many of his hit songs. The introduction by Fats Gonder, captured on Brown's 1963 album Live at the Apollo album, is a representative example:
Concert repertoire and format
James Brown's performances were famous for their intensity and length. His own stated goal was to "give people more than what they came for — make them tired, 'cause that's what they came for.'" Brown's concert repertoire consisted mostly of his own hits and recent songs, with a few R&B covers mixed in. Brown danced vigorously as he sang, working popular dance steps such as the Mashed Potato into his routine along with dramatic leaps, splits and slides. In addition, his horn players and backup singers (The Famous Flames) typically performed choreographed dance routines, and later incarnations of the Revue included backup dancers. Male performers in the Revue were required to wear tuxedoes and cummerbunds long after more casual concert wear became the norm among the younger musical acts. Brown's own extravagant outfits and his elaborate processed hairdo completed the visual impression. A James Brown concert typically included a performance by a featured vocalist, such as Vicki Anderson or Marva Whitney, and an instrumental feature for the band, which sometimes served as the opening act for the show.
A trademark feature of Brown's stage shows, usually during the song "Please, Please, Please", involved Brown dropping to his knees while clutching the microphone stand in his hands, prompting the show's longtime MC, Danny Ray, to come out, drape a cape over Brown's shoulders and escort him off the stage after he had worked himself to exhaustion during his performance. As Brown was escorted off the stage by the MC, Brown's vocal group, The Famous Flames, continued singing the background vocals "Please, please don't go-oh-oh". Brown would then shake off the cape and stagger back to the microphone to perform an encore. Brown's routine was inspired by a similar one used by the professional wrestler Gorgeous George, as well as Little Richard.
Brown performs a version of the cape routine over the closing credits of the film Blues Brothers 2000 and on the T.A.M.I. Show (1964) in which he upstages the Rolling Stones. The Police refer to "James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show" in their 1980 song "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around."
As band leader
Brown demanded extreme discipline, perfection and precision from his musicians and dancers — performers in his Revue showed up for rehearsals and members wore the right "uniform" or "costume" for concert performances. During an interview conducted by Terri Gross during the NPR segment "Fresh Air" with Maceo Parker, a former saxophonist in Brown's band for most of the 1960s and part of the 1970s and 1980s, Parker offered his experience with the discipline that Brown demanded of the band:
You gotta be on time. You gotta have your uniform. Your stuff's got to be intact. You gotta have the bow tie. You got to have it. You can't come up without the bow tie. You cannot come up without a cummerbund ... [The] patent leather shoes we were wearing at the time gotta be greased. You just gotta have this stuff. This is what [Brown expected] ... [Brown] bought the costumes. He bought the shoes. And if for some reason [the band member decided] to leave the group, [Brown told the person to] please leave my uniforms ....—Maceo Parker
Brown also had a practice of directing, correcting and assessing fines on members of his band who broke his rules, such as wearing unshined shoes, dancing out of sync or showing up late on stage. During some of his concert performances, Brown danced in front of his band with his back to the audience as he slid across the floor, flashing hand signals and splaying his pulsating fingers to the beat of the music. Although audiences thought Brown's dance routine was part of his act, this practice was actually his way of pointing to the offending member of his troupe who played or sang the wrong note or committed some other infraction. Brown used his splayed fingers and hand signals to alert the offending person of the fine that person must pay to him for breaking his rules.
Brown's demands of his support acts were, however, quite the reverse. As Fred Wesley recalled of his time as MD of the JBs, if Brown felt intimidated by a support act he would try "To undermine their performances by shortening their sets without notice, demanding that they not do certain showstopping songs, and even insisting on doing the unthinkable, playing drums on some of their songs. A sure set killer."James Brown band to resume touring soon. (December 29, 2006). MSNBC. Retrieved January 13, 2007. White, C. & Weinger, H. Are You Ready for Star Time? Star Time, J. Brown. (1991) Liner notes, 31. Polydor. George, N. (1988). The Death of Rhythm and Blues, 101. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-452-26697-1. Guralnick, P. (1986). Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, 240. New York: Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-452-26697-1. name=jbstarTime>Gross, T. (February 22, 2005). James Brown (Fresh Air WHYY-FM audio interview). National Public Radio. Retrieved January 22, 2007 Guralnick, 231. Page, C. (January 2, 2007). Godfather's soul transcended racial, musical barriers. The Record. Retrieved June 17, 2007. Gross, T. (February 22, 2005). James Brown (Fresh Air WHYY-FM audio interview). National Public Radio. Retrieved January 22, 2007. Loverro, T. (December 28, 2006). Soul Brother had sports roots. The Washington Times. Retrieved January 13, 2007. White 2003, pp. 68–70. Tangari, J. (January 3, 2007). James Brown, 1928–2006. Pitchforkmedia, Inc. Retrieved January 21, 2007. Gross, T. (1989). Musician Maceo Parker (Fresh Air WHYY-FM audio interview). National Public Radio. Retrieved January 22, 2007. Burnett, B. (December 21, 2006). James Brown: Audience with the Godfather (interview). The Hour. Retrieved January 9, 2007. Gottschild, B.D. (August 2000). James Brown: Godfather of dance. Dance Magazine, 74(8), p. 54 (Document no. A63735725). Retrieved January 11, 2007 from the Biography Resource Center database. Fred Wesley's sleevenotes to Honey & the Bees "Dynamite!" (Jamie4009) 1999
ContentsSocial activism1.1 Education advocacy and humanitarianism1.2 Civil rights and self-reliance1.3 Political views
Education advocacy and humanitarianism
Brown's main social activism was in preserving the need for education among youths, influenced by his own troubled childhood and his forced dropping out of the seventh grade for wearing "insufficient clothes". Due to heavy dropout rates in the 1960s, Brown released the pro-education song, "Don't Be a Drop-Out". Royalties of the song were donated to charity used for dropout prevention programs. The success of this led to Brown meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House. Johnson cited Brown for being a positive role model to the youth. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, Brown provided a free city-wide concert in Boston to maintain public order (over the objections of the police chief, who wanted to call off the concert, which he thought would incite violence.). A lifelong Republican like his best friend, Ray Charles, James Brown gained the confidence of President Richard Nixon, to whom he found he had to explain the plight of Black Americans. Brown's outspoken support of President Nixon and the Republican Party in the election of 1972 led groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP and the National Urban League to launch a nationwide boycott of his businesses, at a time when Brown was the most successful Black entrepreneur in America (below). He was also harassed by J. Edgar Hoover and the IRS, probably because Hoover thought it "dangerous" that a young "Black radical" had the ear of the president.
Throughout the remainder of his life, Brown made public speeches in schools and continued to advocate the importance of education in school. Upon filing his will in 2002, Brown advised that most of the money in his estate go into creating the I Feel Good, Inc. Trust to benefit disadvantaged children and provide scholarships for his grandchildren. His final single, "Killing Is Out, School Is In", advocated against murders of young children in the streets. Brown often gave out money and other items to children while traveling to his childhood hometown of Augusta. A week before his death, while looking gravely ill, Brown gave out toys and turkeys to kids at an Atlanta orphanage, something he had done several times over the years.
Civil rights and self-reliance
Though Brown performed at benefit rallies for civil rights organizations in the mid-1960s, Brown often shied away from discussing civil rights in his songs. In 1968, in response to a growing urge of anti-war advocacy during the Vietnam War, Brown recorded the song, "America Is My Home". In the song, Brown performed a rap, advocating patriotism and exhorting listeners to "stop pitying yoursel[ves] and get up and fight." At the time of the song's release, Brown had been participating in performing for troops stationed in Vietnam. A day after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Brown gave out a televised concert at the Boston Garden to calm concerned Boston relatives. The show was later released on DVD as Live at the Boston Garden: April 5, 1968. According to the documentary, The Night James Brown Saved Boston, then-mayor Kevin White had strongly restrained the Boston police from cracking down on minor violence, and protests after the assassination and religious and community leaders worked to keep tempers from flaring. White arranged to have Brown's performance broadcast multiple times on Boston's public television station, WGBH, thus keeping potential rioters off the streets, watching the concert for free. Angered by not being told of this, Brown demanded $60,000 for "gate" fees (money he thought would be lost from ticket sales on account of the concert being broadcast for free) and then threatened to go public about the secret arrangement when the city balked at paying up afterwards, news of which would have been a political death blow to White and spark riots of its own. White eventually lobbied the behind-the-scenes power-brokering group known as "The Vault" to come up with money for Brown's gate fee and other social programs, contributing $100,000. Brown received $15,000 from them via the city. White also persuaded management at the Garden to give up their share of receipts to make up the differences. Following this successful performance, Brown was cautioned by President Johnson to visit cities ravaged from riots following King's assassination to not resort to violence, telling them to "cool it, there's another way".
Responding to pressure from black activists, including H. Rap Brown, to take a bigger stance on their issues and from footage of black on black crime committed in inner cities, Brown wrote lyrics to the song, "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud", which his bandleader, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis accompanied with a musical composition. Released late that summer, the song's lyrics helped to make it an anthem to the civil rights movement. Brown only performed the song sporadically following its initial release and later stated he had regrets recording it, saying in 1984, "Now 'Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud' has done more for the black race than any other record, but if I had my choice, I wouldn't have done it, because I don't like defining anyone by race. To teach race is to teach separatism." In his autobiography he stated:
The song is obsolete now... But it was necessary to teach pride then, and I think the song did a lot of good for a lot of people... People called "Black and Proud" militant and angry – maybe because of the line about dying on your feet instead of living on your knees. But really, if you listen to it, it sounds like a children's song. That's why I had children in it, so children who heard it could grow up feeling pride... The song cost me a lot of my crossover audience. The racial makeup at my concerts was mostly black after that. I don't regret it, though, even if it was misunderstood.”
With the release of a movie about his music and life, there has been a strong resurgence of interest in Brown's importance to civil rights and the black community. In the summer, 2014, the website Portside posted this commentary on the impact of the song "Now 'Say it Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud"
"He was a civil rights icon. Put James in the pantheon of the most impactful black men of the 20th century, and he would not be out of place. How can I make such an assertion? One song: "I'm Black and I'm Proud."
Before that song, if you wanted to start a fight with a man of color, all one had to do was call him black. Up until the mid-sixties, we were trying define ourselves: not colored anymore, now Negro. But black was not something we called ourselves. And along comes this little man and proudly states, "I'm black and I'm proud!" He took the thing that the oppressor used to bludgeon us and made it a weapon of pride for us.
That song caught on like wildfire. One day, our heads were down, the next day, our heads were held high, proud of who we were. We had all these groups, civil rights groups, Muslims, Panthers, but it was JB who gave us our swagger. That song lifted up an entire race! He put us on his back and carried us. Dr. King gave us our rights. JB gave us our dignity. Civil rights icon? You better believe it.When that song came on the radio, cars stopped in the street. People turned up their radios, came out of their houses, and sang along with it; radio stations put it in a loop and played it for hours. The next day people greeted each other with "Hello, black man!" "My black brother." JB made black beautiful overnight." (Portside.com, 2014)
In 1969, Brown recorded two more songs of social commentary including "World" and "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing", the latter song pleading for equal opportunity and self-reliance rather than entitlement. In 1970, in response to some black leaders for not being outspoken enough, Brown recorded "Get Up, Get into It, Get Involved" and "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing". In 1971, Brown began touring Africa and was made "freeman of the city" in Lagos, Nigeria by Oba Adeyinka Oyekan, for his "influence on black people all over the world." With his company, James Brown Enterprises, Brown helped to provide jobs for blacks in business in the communities. As the 1970s continued, Brown continued to record songs of social commentary, much prominently, 1972's "King Heroin" and the two-part ballad "Public Enemy", which dealt with drug addiction.
During the 1968 presidential campaign, Brown endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and appeared with Humphrey at political rallies. Brown began supporting Republican president Richard Nixon after being invited to perform at Nixon's inaugural ball in January 1969. Brown's endorsement of Nixon during the 1972 presidential election negatively impacted his career during that period with several national Black organizations boycotting his records and protesting at his concert shows. Brown stated he was neither Democratic nor Republican despite his support of Republican presidents such as Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In 1999, when being interviewed by Rolling Stone, the magazine asked him to name a hero in the 20th century, Brown mentioned John F. Kennedy and Republican Senator and former segregationist Strom Thurmond, stating "when the young whippersnappers get out of line, whether Democratic or Republican, an old man can walk up and say 'Wait a minute, son, it goes this way.' And that's great for our country. He's like a grandfather to me." In 2003, Brown was the featured attraction of a D.C. fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Following the deaths of Ronald Reagan and his friend Ray Charles, Brown said to CNN, "I'm kind of in an uproar. I love the country and I got – you know I've been around a long time, through many presidents and everything. So after losing Mr. Reagan, who I knew very well, then Mr. Ray Charles, who I worked with and lived with like, all our life, we had a show together in Oakland many, many years ago and it's like you found the placard."Video on YouTube Cite error: The named reference pc51 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). The Night James Brown Saved Boston. VH1 rockDocs. Jet 1971, pp. 54. Rhodes 2008, p. 95. Brown, James, with Bruce Tucker. James Brown: The Godfather of Soul (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company,1986), 200. Jet 1971, pp. 59. Jet 1971, pp. 60. Brown, James, and Tucker, Bruce (2002), James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, New York, N.Y.: Macmillan, p. 281, ISBN 1560253886 Penman, Ian (June 8, 2012). "Did He Feel Good?". City Journal. Manhattan Institute. Retrieved December 22, 2013. James Brown on Conviction, Respect and Reagan. YouTube (PBS). Retrieved 2014-05-16. Hulse, Carl, and Loughlin, Sean (December 20, 1999), "Graham, Clinton agree to agree", Lakeland Ledger: A14 Theimer, Sharon (March 26, 2003). "Gephardt Campaigns, Prays for Troops". Associated Press. Retrieved December 22, 2013. Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees. CNN: June 10, 2004.
ContentsPersonal life1.1 Marriages and children1.2 Drug abuse1.3 Legal troubles
At the end of his life, James Brown lived in a riverfront home in Beech Island, South Carolina, directly across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia. Brown had diabetes that went undiagnosed for years, according to his longtime manager Charles Bobbit. In 2004 Brown was successfully treated for prostate cancer. Regardless of his health, Brown maintained his reputation as the "hardest working man in show business" by keeping up with his grueling performance schedule.
Marriages and children
Brown was married three times. He married his first wife, Velma Warren, in 1953. Over a decade later, the couple had separated, with their divorce finalized by 1969. Despite this, Brown and Warren maintained a close friendship that lasted until Brown's death. Brown married his second wife, Deidre "Deedee" Jenkins, on October 22, 1970. The couple were separated by 1979 and their divorce was finalized less than a year later on January 10, 1981. His third and final marriage was to Adrienne Lois Rodriguez (March 9, 1950 – January 6, 1996). Brown married her in 1984. After a contentious marriage that made headlines due to domestic abuse complaints, Rodriguez died in January 1996. Less than a year after her death, Brown hired Tomi Rae Hynie to be a background singer for his band. Brown and Hynie began dating shortly afterwards.
On December 23, 2002, Brown and Hynie held a wedding ceremony that was officiated by Rev. Larry Flyer. Following Brown's death, controversy surrounded the circumstances of the marriage, with Brown's attorney, Albert "Buddy" Dallas, reporting that the marriage wasn't valid because Hynie was married to Javed Ahmed, a Bangladeshi whom Hynie claimed married her for a Green Card in an immigration fraud. Though Hynie contended the marriage was annulled, the annulment didn't occur until April 2004. In an attempt to prove her marriage to Brown was valid, Hynie produced a 2001 marriage certificate as proof of her marriage to Brown, but she did not provide King with court records pointing to an annulment of her marriage to him or to Ahmed. According to Dallas, Brown was angry and hurt that Hynie had concealed her prior marriage from him and Brown moved to file for annulment from Hynie. Dallas added that though Hynie's marriage to Ahmed was annulled after she married Brown, the Brown-Hynie marriage was not valid under South Carolina law because Brown and Hynie did not remarry after the annulment. In August 2003, Brown took out a full-page public notice in Variety featuring Hynie, James II and himself on vacation at Disney World to announce that he and Hynie were going their separate ways.
Brown had numerous children and acknowledged nine of them including five sons – Teddy (1954–1973), Terry, Larry, Daryl and James Joseph Brown II and four daughters – Lisa, Dr. Yamma Noyola Brown Lumar, Deanna Brown Thomas and Venisha Brown. Brown also had eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Brown's eldest son, Teddy, died in a car crash on June 14, 1973. According to an August 22, 2007 article published in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, DNA tests indicate that Brown also fathered at least three extramarital children. The only one of them who has been identified is LaRhonda Pettit (born 1962), a retired air stewardess and teacher who lives in Houston. During contesting of Brown's will, another of the Brown family attorneys, Debra Opri revealed to Larry King that Brown wanted a DNA test performed after his death to confirm the paternity of James Brown II — not for Brown's sake but for the sake of the other family members. In April 2007, Hynie selected a guardian ad litem whom she wants appointed by the court to represent her son, James Brown II, in the paternity proceedings.
For the majority of his career, Brown carried around a strict drug and alcohol-free policy with any member in his entourage, including band members, firing people who disobeyed orders, particularly those who used or abused drugs and alcohol. Some members of Brown's vocal group the Famous Flames were fired due to alcohol use. Noting of the policy, some of the original members of Brown's 1970s band, The J.B.'s, including Catfish and Bootsy Collins, intentionally got high on LSD during a concert gig in 1971, causing Brown to fire them after the show because he had suspected them to be on drugs all along.
However, by the mid-1980s, it was alleged that Brown himself was using drugs. After meeting and later marrying Adrienne Rodriguez, she and Brown began using PCP ("angel dust"). The drug resulted in domestically violent outbursts from Brown and he was arrested several times for domestic violence against Rodriguez while high on the drug. After a 1988 arrest from allegedly hitting his wife with a lead pipe and shooting at her in their car during an argument, Brown went on the CNN program Sonya Live in L.A. and appeared to be behaving erratically in response to questions asked by host Dr. Sonya Friedman, refusing to discuss the domestic issue with Rodriguez, instead wanting to bring more focus on his professional life. At one point during the interview, Brown began shouting out his song titles to one of Dr. Friedman's questions. The interview later went viral and led some to assume that Brown was either drunk or doped up.
One of Brown's former mistresses recalled in an GQ magazine article on Brown some years after his death that Brown would smoke PCP "until that got hard to find," and cocaine, mixed with tobacco in Kools cigarettes. In January 1998, he spent a week in rehab to deal with an addiction to prescription painkillers; a week following his release, he was arrested for an unlawful use of a handgun and possession of marijuana.
Brown's personal life was marred by several brushes with the law. At the age of 16, he was convicted of theft and served three years in juvenile prison. On July 16, 1978, after performing at the Apollo, Brown was arrested for reportedly failing to turn in records from one of his radio stations after the station was forced to file for bankruptcy. In 1988, Brown was arrested twice, first for drugs and weapons charges in May, and later in September of that year following an alleged high-speed car chase on Interstate 20 near the Georgia-South Carolina state border. He was convicted of carrying an unlicensed pistol and assaulting a police officer, along with various drug-related and driving offenses. Although he was sentenced to six years in prison, he was eventually released in 1991 after serving only three years of his sentence. Brown's FBI file, released to The Washington Post in 2007 under the Freedom of Information Act, related Brown's claim that the high-speed chase did not occur as claimed by the police, and that local police shot at his car several times during an incident of police harassment and assaulted him after his arrest. Local authorities found no merit to Brown's accusations.
In another incident, the police were summoned to Brown's residence on July 3, 2000 after he was accused of charging at an electric company repairman with a steak knife when the repairman visited Brown's house to investigate a complaint about having no lights at the residence. In 2003, Brown was pardoned by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services for past crimes that he was convicted of committing in South Carolina.
For the remainder of his life, Brown was repeatedly arrested for domestic violence. Adrienne Rodriguez, his third wife, had him arrested four times between 1987 and 1995 on charges of assault. In January 2004, Brown was arrested in South Carolina on a domestic violence charge after Tomi Rae Hynie accused him of pushing her to the floor during an argument at their home, where she suffered scratches and bruises to her right arm and hip. Later that year in June 2004, Brown pleaded no contest to the domestic violence incident, but served no jail time. Instead, Brown was required to forfeit a US$1,087 bond as punishment.
In January 2005, a woman named Jacque Hollander filed a lawsuit against James Brown, which stemmed from an alleged 1988 rape. When the case was initially heard before a judge in 2002, Hollander's claims against Brown were dismissed by the court as the limitations period for filing the suit had expired. Hollander claimed that stress from the alleged assault later caused her to contract Graves' Disease, a thyroid condition. Hollander claimed that the incident took place in South Carolina while she was employed by Brown as a publicist. Hollander alleged that, during her ride in a van with Brown, Brown pulled over to the side of the road and sexually assaulted her while he threatened her with a shotgun. In her case against Brown, Hollander entered as evidence a DNA sample and a polygraph result, but the evidence was not considered due to the limitations defense. Hollander later attempted to bring her case before the Supreme Court but nothing became of her complaint.Jet 2003, p. 54. "Singer James Brown prostate cancer surgery successful". (December 16, 2004). Medical News Today. Retrieved January 10, 2007. Martin, J. (January 4, 2007). Tomi Rae defends her relationship with James Brown. WRDW-TV (Augusta, Georgia). Retrieved January 9, 2007. Gardner, L. (December 26, 2006). Tomi Rae Hynie: "It's a blatant lie". WRDW-TV (Augusta, Georgia). Retrieved January 8, 2007. Anderson, V. (January 5, 2007). Probate hearing may determine whether Hynie is James Brown's widow. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Retrieved January 8, 2007. Singer James Brown files for annulment. Jet Magazine, 105(8), p. 18. Retrieved January 11, 2007 from the Biography Resource Center database. Brown widow: I've been locked out. (2006). CNN Entertainment News. Retrieved January 8, 2007. Public announcement of annulment in Variety Magazine. (July 22, 2003). The Smoking Gun. Retrieved January 8, 2007. Stritof, S. & Stritof, B. (2007). James Brown and Tomi Rae Hynie timeline: The puzzle of a complicated marriage relationship. About.com: Marriage. Retrieved January 14, 2002. Goodman, Brenda (November 8, 2007). ""Keeping Track of James Brown and The Big Payback" Brenda Goodman, Nov. 8, 2007". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2009. Stritof, S. & Stritof, B. (2006). The marriages of James Brown. About.com: Marriage. Retrieved January 8, 2007. Elsworth, C. (August 22, 2007) James Brown's secret children emerge. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 5, 2009. "Brown wanted paternity test". The Herald Sun (Australia). January 8, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2007. "James Brown's partner selects guardian". The Washington Post. April 4, 2007. Retrieved April 11, 2007. Unsung: Bootsy Collins, TV One, 2011 Smith, R. J. (2012). The One: The Life and Music of James Brown. New York City: Penguin Group. pp. 341–344. ISBN 9781592407422. "1988: Is this James Brown's strangest interview ever?". CNN (via YouTube). May 29, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2014. "Papa: Music: GQ". Retrieved July 19, 2012. "James Brown Facing Marijuana, Weapons Charges". Philadelphia Daily News. January 29, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2012. "James Brown Facts, information, pictures Encyclopedia.com articles about James Brown". Retrieved July 24, 2012. Smith 2012, p. 225. In the Matter of James Joseph Brown, File No. SV-44B-3846. (1989). Criminal Investigative Division, Civil Rights Unit. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved June 3, 2007 (Abobe Acrobat Reader required for viewing). Stephens, J. (April 3, 2007). FBI file recounts James Brown's side Of '88 police chase. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 4, 2007. Aiken County Sheriff's Office Incident Report, Case No. 0000030719. (July 3, 2000). The Smoking Gun. Retrieved January 8, 2007. South Carolina pardons James Brown for past crimes. (June 9, 2003). Jet Magazine, 36. Retrieved January 14, 2007 from the Lexis-Nexis Academic database. James Brown pleads to domestic violence. (2004). The Smoking Gun. Retrieved January 8, 2007. "James Brown rape case dismissed.". BBC News. April 3, 2007. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
ContentsDeath and aftermath1.1 Death1.2 Memorial services1.3 Last will and testament
Death and aftermath
On December 23, 2006, Brown became very ill and arrived at his dentist's office in Atlanta, Georgia, several hours later than his appointment for dental implant work. During that visit, Brown's dentist observed that Brown looked "very bad ... weak and dazed." Instead of performing the dental work, the dentist advised Brown to see a doctor right away about his medical condition.
Brown checked in at the Emory Crawford Long Memorial Hospital the next day for a medical evaluation of his condition, and he was admitted to the hospital for observation and treatment. According to Charles Bobbit, Brown's longtime personal manager and friend, Brown had had a noisy cough since he returned from a November trip to Europe. Bobbit also added that Brown never complained about being sick, and often performed while ill. Although Brown had to cancel upcoming shows in Waterbury, Connecticut and Englewood, New Jersey, Brown was confident that the doctor would discharge him from the hospital in time to perform the New Year's Eve shows. For the New Year's celebrations, Brown was scheduled to perform at the Count Basie Theatre in New Jersey and at the B. B. King Blues Club in New York, in addition to performing a song live on CNN for the Anderson Cooper New Year's Eve special. However, Brown remained hospitalized, and his medical condition worsened throughout that day.
On December 25, 2006, Brown died at approximately 1:45 am EST (06:45 UTC) from congestive heart failure resulting from complications of pneumonia, at age 73, with his personal manager and longtime friend Charles Bobbit at his bedside. According to Bobbit, Brown stuttered "I'm going away tonight", and then Brown took three long, quiet breaths and fell asleep before dying.
After Brown's death, Brown's relatives and friends, a host of celebrities and thousands of fans attended public memorial services at the Apollo Theater in New York on December 28, 2006 and at the James Brown Arena on December 30, 2006 in Augusta, Georgia. A separate, private memorial service was also held in North Augusta, South Carolina on December 29, 2006, which was attended by Brown's family and close friends. Celebrities who attended Brown's public and/or private memorial services included Michael Jackson, Jimmy Cliff, Joe Frazier, Buddy Guy, Ice Cube, Ludacris, Dr. Dre, Little Richard, Dick Gregory, MC Hammer, Prince, Jesse Jackson, Ice-T, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bootsy Collins, LL Cool J, Lil Wayne, Lenny Kravitz, 50 Cent, Stevie Wonder, Todd Williams and Don King, among others. All of the public and private memorial services were officiated by Rev. Al Sharpton.
Brown's public and private memorial ceremonies were elaborate, complete with costume changes for Brown and videos featuring him in concert performances. Brown's body, which was placed in a Promethean casket, which is bronze polished to a golden shine, was driven through the streets of New York to the Apollo Theater in a white, glass-encased horse-drawn carriage. In Augusta, Georgia, the procession for Brown's public memorial visited Brown's statue as the procession made its way to the James Brown Arena. During the public memorial at the James Brown Arena, nachos and pretzels were served to mourners, as a video showed Brown's last performance in Augusta, Georgia and the Ray Charles version of "Georgia on My Mind" played soulfully in the background. Brown's last backup band, The Soul Generals, also played the music of Brown's hits during the memorial service at the James Brown Arena. The group was joined by Bootsy Collins on bass, with MC Hammer performing a dance in James Brown style. Former Temptations lead singer Ali-Ollie Woodson performed "Walk Around Heaven All Day" at the memorial services.
Last will and testament
James Brown signed his last will and testament on August 1, 2000, before Strom Thurmond, Jr., an attorney for Brown's estate. The irrevocable trust, separate and apart from Brown's will, was created on Brown's behalf in 2000 by his attorney, Albert "Buddy" Dallas, who was named as one of three personal representatives of Brown's estate. Brown's will covered the disposition of his personal assets, such as clothing, cars and jewelry, while Brown's irrevocable trust covered the disposition of music rights, business assets of James Brown Enterprises and Brown's Beech Island estate in South Carolina.
During the reading of Brown's will on January 11, 2007, Thurmond revealed that Brown's six adult living children (Terry Brown, Larry Brown, Daryl Brown, Yamma Brown Lumar, Deanna Brown Thomas and Venisha Brown) were named in the will. Hynie and James II were not mentioned in the will as parties who could inherit Brown's property. Brown's will was signed ten months before James II was born and more than a year before Brown's marriage to Tomi Rae Hynie. Like Brown's will, his irrevocable trust also did not mention Hynie and James II as recipients of Brown's property. The irrevocable trust was established before, and had not been amended since, the birth of James II.
On January 24, 2007, Brown's children filed a lawsuit against the personal representatives of Brown's estate. In their petition, Brown's children asked the court to remove the personal representatives of Brown's estate (including Brown's attorney and estate's trustee, Albert "Buddy" Dallas) and appoint a special administrator because of perceived impropriety and alleged mismanagement of Brown's assets. To challenge the validity of the will and irrevocable trust, Hynie also filed a lawsuit against Brown's estate on January 31, 2007. In her lawsuit against Brown's estate, Hynie asked the court to recognize her as Brown's widow, and she also asked the court to appoint a special administrator for the estate.Smith, W. (December 26, 2006). James Brown, the undeniable Godfather of Soul" dead at 73. The New York Beacon. Retrieved January 10, 2007. james Brown hospitalized with pneumonia. (December 24, 2006). CNN Entertainment News. Retrieved January 9, 2007. Soul "godfather" James Brown dies. (December 25, 2006). CNN Entertainment News. Retrieved January 9, 2007. James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," dies at 73. (December 25, 2006). CNN Entertainment News. Retrieved January 5, 2007. Old friend and original Famous Flames founder Bobby Byrd was also present. Mourners pay respects to James Brown at Apollo Theater public viewing. (December 28, 2006). Fox News. Retrieved March 16, 2007. Private ceremony held Friday for friends and family of James Brown. (December 29, 2006). Fox News. Retrieved March 16, 2007. Michael Jackson attends James Brown funeral. (December 30, 2006). Access Hollywood. Retrieved March 21, 2007. Anderson, V. (December 30, 2006). Michael Jackson, McCartney had private viewing. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved March 23, 2007. James Brown eulogized for impact on word: Family and friends attend a private South Carolina ceremony for the "Godfather of Soul". (December 29, 2006). CBS News: The Show Buzz. Retrieved March 10, 2007. NYC & Ga. farewell for Godfather of Soul: Funeral procession and wake in Harlem; funeral in Georgia. (December 28, 2006). CBS News: The Show Buzz. Retrieved March 10, 2007. Christensen, J. (December 28, 2006). Picture of horse-drawn carriage carrying James Brown's body in gold casket to the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 21, 2007. Altaffer, M. (December 28, 2006). Picture of pallbearers carrying James Brown's casket to Apollo Theater memorial service. Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 21, 2007. Mourners pay respects to James Brown at Apollo Theater public viewing. (December 28, 2006). Fox News. Retrieved March 16, 2007. Farewell tour to James Brown ends with hometown memorial. (December 30, 2006). Fox News. Retrieved March 21, 2007. Barnett, R. (December 30, 2006). Farewell tour to James Brown ends. USA Today. Retrieved March 16, 2007. Wynn, M. & Edwards, J. (December 31, 2006).  Article "Hardest Work Is Done, Publication: Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved February 1, 2009. James Brown Jr. not included in will. WRDW-TV News (Augusta, Georgia). Retrieved January 12, 2007. James Brown's road to wealth was rocky: Financial turmoil part of "Godfather" legend. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved March 21, 2007. James Brown's widow "not in will". BBC News (UK). Retrieved January 12, 2007. Finn, N. (January 18, 2007). James Brown's estate wills more drama. E!News. Retrieved March 21, 2007. James Brown's children request trustees be removed. (January 26, 2007). Star Pulse. Retrieved January 28, 2007. Emergency petition for termination of appointment and removal of personal representatives and for emergency order restraining all personal representatives. In the matter of James Brown, a/k/a James Joseph Brown. Case/Estate No. 2007-ES02-0056 (S.C. Probate Ct., filed January 24, 2007). Retrieved January 28, 2007 (Adobe Acrobat Reader required for viewing). Emergency petition for appointment of special administrator. In re estate of James Brown a/k/a James Joseph Brown, deceased, Case No. 2007-CP-02-0122 (S.C. Cir. Ct., filed January 31, 2007). FindLaw. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
James Brown received a variety of awards and honors throughout his lifetime and after his death. At one city, fans voted to honor Brown by naming a bridge after the entertainer. In 1993, the City Council of Steamboat Springs, Colorado conducted a poll of its residents to choose a new name for the bridge that crossed the Yampa River on Shield Drive. The winning name with 7,717 votes was "James Brown SoulCenter of the Universe Bridge". The bridge was officially dedicated in September 1993, and James Brown appeared at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the event. Although a petition was started by a local group of ranchers to return the name of the bridge to "Stockbridge" for historical reasons, the ranchers backed off after citizens defeated their efforts because of the popularity of Brown's name. Brown returned to Steamboat Springs, Colorado on July 4, 2002 for an outdoor music festival, performing with other bands such as The String Cheese Incident.
During his long career, James Brown received several prestigious music industry awards and honors. In 1983, Brown was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Brown was named as one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural induction dinner in New York on January 23, 1986. However, the members of his original vocal group, The Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Johnny Terry, Bobby Bennett, and Lloyd Stallworth) were not inducted. However, on April 14, 2012 The Famous Flames were automatically and retroactively inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside James Brown, without the need for nomination and voting, under the premise that they should have been inducted with him back in 1986. On February 25, 1992, Brown was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 34th annual Grammy Awards. Exactly a year later, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 4th annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards. A ceremony was held for Brown on January 10, 1997 to honor him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On June 15, 2000, Brown was honored as an inductee for the New York Songwriters Hall of Fame. On August 6, 2002, James Brown was honored as the first BMI Urban Icon at the BMI Urban Awards. His BMI accolades include an impressive ten R&B Awards and six Pop Awards. On November 14, 2006, Brown was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, and he was one of several inductees who performed at the ceremony. In recognition of his accomplishments as an entertainer, Brown was a recipient of Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked James Brown as No. 7 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In an article for Rolling Stone, critic Robert Christgau cited Brown as "the greatest musician of the rock era".
He appeared on the BET Awards June 24, 2003, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Michael Jackson, and he would perform with him.
Brown was also honored in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia for his philanthropy and civic activities. On November 20, 1993, Mayor Charles DeVaney of Augusta held a ceremony to dedicate a section of 9th Street between Broad and Twiggs Streets, renamed "James Brown Boulevard", in the entertainer's honor. On May 6, 2005, as a 72nd birthday present for Brown, the city of Augusta unveiled a life-sized bronze James Brown statue on Broad Street. The statue was to have been dedicated a year earlier, but the ceremony was put on hold because of a domestic abuse charge that Brown faced at the time. In 2005, Charles "Champ" Walker and the We Feel Good Committee went before the County commission and received approval to change Augusta's slogan to "We Feel Good". Afterwards, Official renamed the city's civic center the James Brown Arena, and James Brown attended a ceremony for the unveiling of the namesake center on October 15, 2006.
On December 30, 2006, during the public memorial service at the James Brown Arena, Dr. Shirley A.R. Lewis, president of Paine College, a historically black college in Augusta, Georgia, bestowed posthumously upon Brown an honorary doctorate in recognition and honor of his many contributions to the school in its times of need. Brown was scheduled originally to receive the honorary doctorate from Paine College during its May 2007 commencement.
During the 49th Annual Grammy Awards presentation held on February 11, 2007, James Brown's famous cape was draped over a microphone by Danny Ray at the end of a montage in honor of notable people in the music industry who died during the previous year. Earlier that evening, Christina Aguilera delivered an impassioned performance of one of Brown's hits, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" followed by a standing ovation, while Chris Brown performed a dance routine in honor of James Brown.
On August 17, 2013, the official R&B Music Hall of Fame honored and inducted James Brown at a ceremony held at the Waetejen Auditorium at Cleveland State University.Crowl, D. (June 29, 2002). The godfather's bridge: James Brown snatched a piece of steamboat history nine years ago. Steamboat Pilot & Today. Retrieved January 12, 2007. The String Cheese Independence Incident returns to Steamboat: Earl Scruggs and Family and Friends, Yonder Mountain String Band, James Brown & Corey Harris round out music acts. (June 26, 2002). Steamboat Ski Two, U.S.A. Retrieved January 29, 2007. "The Famous Flames". Future Rock Legends. Retrieved May 4, 2012. "The Famous Flames Biography | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Rockhall.com. Retrieved May 4, 2012. Redferns. "The Famous Flames: James Brown was their leader, but they were R&B legends, too (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012)". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved May 4, 2012. The James Brown review. (December 30, 2006). The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved January 12, 2007. "BMI Celebrates Urban Music at 2002 Awards Ceremony". bmi.com. Retrieved September 27, 2010. UK Music Hall of Fame 2006. (March 11, 2006). Endemol UK Plc. Retrieved January 12, 2007. Rubin, R. (April 15, 2004). The Immortals: The first fifty – 7 James Brown. Rolling Stone Magazine (issue 946). Retrieved January 10, 2007. Christgau, Robert. The Genius: James Brown. Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 17, 2010. James Brown's legal troubles delay statue unveiling. (May 1, 2004). The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved January 14, 2007 from the Lexis-Nexis Academic database. Remembering James Brown: Augusta memorial memorable. WKBF-TV (Augusta, Georgia). Retrieved January 10, 2007. James Brown receives posthumous degree. (January 2, 2007). Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Retrieved March 16, 2007. Hasty, J. (February 12, 2007). Grammy performances look forward and back. Billboard. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
As a tribute to James Brown, the Rolling Stones covered the song, "I'll Go Crazy" from Brown's Live at the Apollo album, during their 2007 European tour. On September 12, 2007, barely nine months after James Brown's death, Bobby Byrd, the original leader and founder of The Famous Flames vocal group along with Brown, died of cancer at 73 years old. Jimmy Page has remarked, "He [James Brown] was almost a musical genre in his own right and he changed and moved forward the whole time so people were able to learn from him."
On December 22, 2007, the first annual "Tribute Fit For the King of King Records" in honor of James Brown was held at the Madison Theater in Covington, Kentucky. The tribute, organized by Bootsy Collins, featured appearances by Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D of Public Enemy, The Soul Generals, Buckethead, Freekbass, Triage and many of Brown's surviving family members. Comedian Michael Coyer was the MC for the event. During the show, the mayor of Cincinnati proclaimed December 22 as James Brown Day.Rolling Stones show they are still greatest rock band. (August 22, 2007). The Arizona Republic. Retrieved August 24, 2007. Ross Bennett. Jimmy Page: "The Records That Changed My Life!" #10. Mojo. Retrieved December 31, 2010. Tunis, W. (December 21, 2007). Feel good again: Show to pay tribute to the Godfather of Soul, a year after his death. Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved December 23, 2005.