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 one of the founding fathers of funk music and is a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance. In a career that spanned six decades, Brown profoundly influenced the development of many different musical genres. Brown moved 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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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of James Brown.


1933 Birth James Joseph 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 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". … Read More
1952 19 Years Old Brown 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, the Famous Flames and his band, sometimes named the James Brown Orchestra or the James Brown Band. … Read More
1962 29 Years Old 1 More Event
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. … 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 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
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 including "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, Brown 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
James Brown returned 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 - 2001 5 More Events
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.
2003 70 Years Old 1 More Event
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.
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.
2005 72 Years Old 1 More Event
In January 2005, a woman named Jacque Hollander filed a lawsuit against James Brown, which stemmed from an alleged 1988 rape. … Read More
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. … Read More
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