'Godfather of Soul' James Brown Dies
Singer was hospitalized for pneumonia
The revolutionary singer died at 1:45 a.m. on Christmas at Atlanta's Emory Crawford Long Hospital where he was hospitalized for pneumonia.
With his fleet-footed dance moves, shouting vocals, driving rhythms and on-stage theatrics, Brown was a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. His influence can be felt in a wide array of musical musical genres including jazz, disco, gospel, hip-hop, reggae, rock and rap.
James Joseph Brown Jr. was born during a Depression-era South Carolina in `933 and was raised in Augusta, Georgia, where he mainly got into trouble and was even sent to a juvenile detention center for armed robbery. He eventually cleaned up his act, and after trying his hand at assorted odd jobs, turned to music in the '50s.
Brown started with the Gospel Starlighters in 1955, eventually moving on to join Bobby Byrd in the Avons and then The Famous Flames, who were signed with King Records. Their first hit "Please, Please, Please" in 1956, was followed by nine failed singles and the moderately popular single "Try Me." During this time, he was heavily influence by Little Richard and began developing his own sound.
Brown began his funk hits in the '60s, churning out favorites like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and switching it up with ballads like "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." By the late '60s, his vocal style showed traces of how it would influence rap later, and his songs took a socio-political bent, such as "Say It Lout -- I'm Blackand I'm Proud."
By 1970, Brown and Byrd put together a new band called The JB's that consisted of bassist Bootsy Collins, his guitarist brother Phelphs "Catfish" Collins and trombonist Fred Wesley. Together,they released the single "(Get Up I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine." The '70s also saw Brown's collaboration with Polydor Records and the rise of disco.
In the next decade, Brown experienced more mainstream success and made cameo appearances in films such as "The Blues Brothers," "Doctor Detroit" and "Rocky IV." His songs can be heard on numerous film and TV soundtracks, and he had scored the 1973 blaxploitation film "Black Caesar."
Brown had an equally colorful personal life. He had run-ins with the police for threatening pedestrians with firearms, drug possession and domestic abuse, of which his third wife Adrienne Rodriegues accused him. He was first married to Velma Warren, with whom he had two children, then to Deidre Jenkins, with whom he had three kids, then Rodriegues and finally Tommie Raye Hynie, with whom he had a son, James, Jr.
Brown won a Grammy in 1965 for his best R&B recording "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and in 1987 for "Living in America." In 1992, he received an additional Grammy for lifetime achievement. He was also one of the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with his friend Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.