James Brown

Singer + Songwriter + Record Producer + Dope Dealer
Born May 3, 1933

James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of funk music and is a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance. In a career that spanned decades, Brown profoundly influenced the development of many different musical genres. Brown moves on a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly "Africanized" approach to music making.… Read More

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News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about James Brown.

  • Prosecutors: Man Tries To Solicit Murders Of Girl, 15, And Mom Who Accused Him Of Sex Abuse
    Chicago Times - 3 days ago
  • Cinema Eye Honors Non Fiction Films
    Huffington Post - 5 days ago
  • Georgia Churches On A Mission To Heal Decades Long Racial Divide
    CBS News - Dec 06, 2016
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    'sweet Charity' Provides Triple Threat Sutton Foster 'room To Show'
    Huffington Post - Dec 02, 2016


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of James Brown.


1933 Birth 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. … Read More


1944 11 Years Old He 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". … Read More
1952 19 Years Old He was paroled on June 14, 1952. … Read More


1953 - 1958 4 More Events
1959 26 Years Old Brown, the Flames, and his entire band debuted at the Apollo Theater on April 24, 1959, opening for Little Willie John. … Read More
1960 27 Years Old By 1960, Brown began multi-tasking in the recording studio involving himself, his singing group, the Famous Flames, and his band, a separate entity from The Flames, sometimes named the James Brown Orchestra or the James Brown Band. … Read More
1962 29 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1962, Brown and his band scored a hit 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. … Read More


1963 - 1967 5 More Events
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". … Read More
1969 36 Years Old 1 More Event
Brown began supporting Republican president Richard Nixon after being invited to perform at Nixon's inaugural ball in January 1969.
1970 37 Years Old 1 More Event
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. … Read More
1971 38 Years Old In 1971, Brown began recording for Polydor Records which also took over distribution of Brown's King Records catalog. … Read More
1972 39 Years Old 1 More Event
During the 1972 presidential election, James Brown openly proclaimed his support of Richard Nixon for reelection of the presidency over Democratic candidate George McGovern. … Read More


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. … Read More
1974 41 Years Old 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, with "My Thang" and "Papa Don't Take No Mess". … Read More
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. … Read More
1979 46 Years Old 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.
1981 48 Years Old After two more albums failed to chart, Brown left Polydor in 1981. … Read More


1984 51 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1984, he teamed with rap musician Afrika Bambaattaa on the song "Unity".
1986 53 Years Old 1 More Event
A year later he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and issued the moderately successful album Gravity in 1986. … Read More
1987 54 Years Old In 1987, Brown won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Living in America".
1988 55 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1988, Brown worked with the production team Full Force on the new jack swing-influenced album I'm Real. … Read More
1991 58 Years Old 1 More Event
He returned to music with the album Love Over-Due in 1991. … Read More


Brown continued making recordings. In 1993 his album Universal James was released. … Read More
1995 - 1998 3 More Events
2001 68 Years Old 1 More Event
Brown then appeared in Tony Scott's short film Beat the Devil in 2001. … Read More
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 having accidentally knocked out the singer.
2004 71 Years Old 1 More Event
In 2004, Brown performed in Hyde Park, London as a support act for Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts.
In January 2005 a woman named Jacque Hollander filed a lawsuit against James Brown, which stemmed from an alleged 1988 rape.
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.
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