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Biographies - James Brown
James Brown
Image Source: James Brown photo credit to Heinrich Klaffs
James Brown
Born: May 3, 1933
Died: December 25, 2006
American entertainer recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th-century popular music. He was commonly referred to as the "Godfather of Soul."


Links: James Brown: The Godfather of Soul
  Funky Stuff: James Brown
  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: James Brown

James Brown was an American entertainer recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th-century popular music.

As a prolific singer, songwriter, bandleader and record producer, Brown was a powerful force in the evolution of gospel and rhythm and blues into soul and funk. He left his mark on numerous other musical genres, including rock, jazz, reggae, disco, dance and electronic music, afrobeat, and hip-hop music.

His career as entertainer and songwriter stretched back to another era of music, when soul songs and performances were just beginning to "cross over" from the more traditional rhythm and blues charts to the pop entries.

Two-time Grammy Award winner and inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Browns initial recordings helped move rhythm and blues music into the mainstream. Interestingly, despite the fact that he was the writer of virtually every song he recorded, Brown was still principally known as a concert performer, singer and recording artist.

As an artist/composer, Brown was regarded as having been an influential factor in the careers of many headline-writer-performers of the day, including Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Prince, M.C. Hammer and Sting, among many others.

As a singer, Browns style evolved over the years but never strayed from his roots in gospel and soul music. He achieved a wide international following among fans of many races and cultures. Beginning with his first significant record release of "Ill Go Crazy" in 1960, virtually every James Brown record had been a hit, among them 74 R&B Top 20 entries, including 17 number ones and total sales of more than 50 million records.

At age 20, Brown joined a group known as The Gospel Starlighters. With the presence of Brown a factor, the group made a stylistic switch out of gospel and on to the more broad-based rhythm and blues field. At the same moment, a name change to The Famous Flames was adopted, a monumental career was launched and the name, James Brown and the Famous Flames became a byword of across-the-board success in the record charts.

The launch pad for this music explosion came during a concert performance of the Brown song, "Please, Please, Please," when a Cincinnati-based recording executive, Syd Nathan heard what was going on and immediately summoned the group to a studio, where the Famous Flames very first recording of the same song, became a bona fide hit.

From that time forward, Brown and company toured relentlessly from the late 50s to the mid 70s, sometimes performing as many as 350 one-nighters in a single year.

Despite his schedule demands, Brown became an advocate for various causes and associated himself with government figures involved in justice for minorities and the poor. A major figure in black causes, he was actually called upon to help quell the racial rioting of the late 60s in such cities as Detroit and Newark, among others. Brown also found time to visit and perform for American troops in Vietnam.

During the 1980�s, a new generation began to discover James Brown and they found him on screen in such motion pictures as "The Blues Brothers" and "Rocky IV.�

Throughout his four decades of music, Brown continued working in perhaps his strongest territory, that of a songwriter. His production output includes a host of memorable titles, songs that each have their special niche in pop music history. They include "Papas Got A Brand New Bag," "Baby You
e Right," "Get it Together," "I Don Want Nobody To Give Me Nothin�," "Say It Loud - Im Black And Im Proud," "Sex Machine," "America Is My Home" and "I Got You (I Feel Good).�

Brown was admitted to the Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia on December 24, 2006 after a dentist visit where he was found to have severe pneumonia. Brown died the next day on December 25, 2006, around 1:45 a.m. (06:45 UTC) at age 73. The cause of death was heart failure, according to his agent. James was quoted saying "Im going away tonight" sometime before he passed away.

Over the years, James Brown was honored with the Award of Merit from the American Music Awards. During the same season, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Meanwhile, the album James Browns Greatest Hits, reached the gold record level, giving proof again that after 40 years of performing and writing great songs, James Brown has remained the true "Godfather of Soul."

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