James Brown
Singer, songwriter, record producer, dope dealer
James Brown
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.
James Brown's personal information overview.
News abour James Brown from around the web
James Brown's 'Funky Drummer' Clyde Stubblefield dies at 73
Fox News - 1 day
Clyde Stubblefield, a drummer for James Brown who created one of the most widely sampled drum breaks ever, died Saturday.
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Fox News article
We, Too, Sing America: 17 Songs That Reflect On Being Black In America
Huffington Post - 10 days
Music has always been a sacred outlet of expression for black Americans. From singers like Nina Simone to Marvin Gaye, music made by black artists can provide a unique perspective on the meaning of being black in America. Songs like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” which bemoans racist lynchings in the South, and Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage,” which captures the many sources of black frustrations, echo tales of injustice, despondency and rage. In fact, it was Simone who said that “an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” And she certainly wasn’t alone in her pursuance of that mission. So in honor of the musicians that used their music to amplify the struggles of black Americans, we’ve compiled a list of 17 songs that sing truth to the black experience.  Billie Holiday — “Strange Fruit”  Sam Cooke — “A Change Is Gonna Come”  Curtis Mayfield — “Keep On Pushing”  Nina Simone — “Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)” ...
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Huffington Post article
A Look Back At 28 Memorable 'Soul Train' Performances
Huffington Post - 20 days
In 1970, Don Cornelius created the first musical television show catered to black audiences with the cultural phenomenon of “Soul Train.” Launched as a local television program in Chicago in 1970, the music variety show ― hosted by Cornelius ― was syndicated in other national markets a year later and it ran until 2006. Similar to Dick Clark’s music-performance show “American Bandstand,” “Soul Train” featured guests dancing to latest music hits and served as a platform to showcase black music acts, including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Janet Jackson, and Destiny’s Child.  The influential show also spawned the creation of the Soul Train dance line and, eventually became the longest running nationally-syndicated music program in television history. Cornelius said during a 2010 USA Today interview that he launched the show to give viewers an alternative to then-popular talk shows, “The Mike Douglas Show,” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” which were mostly targete ...
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Huffington Post article
Prosecutors: Man tries to solicit murders of girl, 15, and mom who accused him of sex abuse
Chicago Times - about 1 month
A man who was already in jail on a criminal sexual abuse case is accused of trying to arrange the murders of the 15-year-old victim and her mother, prosecutors said. Ivan Flores appeared before Judge James Brown at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday where a $500,000 bail was set on...
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Chicago Times article
Cinema Eye Honors Non-Fiction Films
Huffington Post - about 1 month
At the Cinema Eye Honors luncheon celebrating documentary films and the filmmakers who make them, Otto Bell exulted: his The Eagle Huntress had just received a BAFTA nod, and one from the Directors' Guild of America, but more exciting to him was a tea last week at the Plaza Athenee where Robert Kennedy Jr. had a conversation with him about falconry, and brought his own eagle. Successful with this first-time feature, Bell makes commercials for CNN. Blown away, he asked, "Can you believe it: "Robert Kennedy, Jr.!" We were seated at an elegantly appointed table at a Manhattan penthouse, amidst Alex Gibney, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Frederick Wiseman, Laura Poitras, a who's who of the documentary world gathered for the 10th year of Cinema Eye Honors. The focus of the lunch was the presentation of the Legacy Award for The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1984). Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady presided. Laura Albert, the star of Author: The JT Leroy Story, and Kirsten Johnson, whose Camerap ...
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Huffington Post article
Georgia churches on a mission to heal decades-long racial divide
CBS News - 3 months
Most Americans feel the country has grown more divided in recent years. However, two churches in Macon, Georgia may be on the right path to mending the rift. James Brown reports.
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CBS News article
'Sweet Charity' provides triple-threat Sutton Foster 'room to show'
Huffington Post - 3 months
By Jil Picariello, ZEALnyc Theater Editor, December 2, 2016 When they build the musical theater equivalent of Mount Rushmore, I know who one of the faces will be. My only complaint about the inimitable Sutton Foster is that I have a hard time figuring out what she does best. Flawless dancing? Check. Stunning singing? Yup. Hilarious physical comedy? For sure. But the thing that puts the cherry on the Foster cupcake (and makes her latest, a small-scale revival of the 1966 Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields-Neil Simon musical Sweet Charity, so brilliant) is that while doing all that singing and dancing and laugh-generating and even gymnastics (just watch this), she manages to imbue every moment with a depth of character that most performers don't attain even without the high kicks and tumbles. The psychological and emotional progression of the story doesn't stop for the musical numbers, rather, thanks to Foster, they are expanded by it. This revival is not as sweet as Charity usually is. ...
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Huffington Post article
Eleven More Bass Players Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Huffington Post - 3 months
"You ask the average person what a bass is, or what a bass sounds like, and most of the time, they don't know. But remove the bass from any piece of music and suddenly it becomes the largest missing piece in the world! Whoa, fifty percent of the music just went away with one instrument! It is an instrument that is much more conspicuous by its absence than by its presence..." As told to this writer by Michael J. Visceglia, bassist, author, educator, recording artist The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were revealed a few weeks ago and I congratulate all the artists: Bad Brains, Chaka Khan, Chic, Depeche Mode, Electric Light Orchestra, J. Geils Band, Jane's Addiction, Janet Jackson, Joan Baez, Joe Tex, Journey, Kraftwerk, MC 5, Pearl Jam, Steppenwolf, The Cars, The Zombies, Tupac Shakur, and Yes. Some of the choices are obvious to me, some less so. A few leave me bewildered, but that's rock and roll...the mistakes make the music real. And I see that a few of the nomi ...
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Huffington Post article
Giving Back or Paying it Forward -- opportunities for volunteering on or around Thanksgiving
Huffington Post - 3 months
Volunteers at God's Love We Deliver By Danielle Zickl, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, November 21, 2016 Thanksgiving is one of the most popular days to volunteer and give back to the community, and spots can fill up fast. But if you find you have a couple of hours to spare on and around November 24, we've highlighted five organizations that still have opportunities available to donate, make, and deliver Thanksgiving meals to families in need throughout the city. Yorkville Common Pantry - 8 East 10th Street, Manhattan Opened in 1980 as a small neighborhood food pantry, Yorkville Common Pantry now serves almost 400,000 people and is committed to reducing hunger by providing nutritious and balanced food options to those in need. Participate in their Thanksgiving Food Drive by collecting items such as cranberry sauce, rice, gravy, cornbread and stuffing mix, and pasta. The last pick-up day will be Friday, November 18. For more information on the food drive and for everyday vo ...
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Huffington Post article
Sharon Jones, Grammy-Nominated Soul Singer, Dead At 60
Huffington Post - 3 months
Sharon Jones, the Grammy-nominated soul and funk singer who led the Dap-Kings, died Friday after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. She was 60. We are deeply saddened to announce Sharon Jones passed away today. More details at https://t.co/MAag8tYrE3 — Sharon Jones (@sharonjones) November 19, 2016 Jones “was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time,” a statement posted to the group’s website said.  Jones brought a fiery intensity to the sounds of R&B and soul that she grew up with in South Carolina. She realized as a child she was destined to become a singer after performing in her church Christmas play. “I knew that I was going to be a singer. God had blessed me with a gift,” Jones told NPR’s Terry Gross in July.  Jones sharpened her chops during the 1970s by singing with church and wedding ensembles, which helped pay her bills, but didn’t elevate her in the industry. ...
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Huffington Post article
Millennial Madness -- Deals for Thrifty 'Thirty-somethings' (and under)
Huffington Post - 3 months
By Mercedes Vizcaino, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, November 16, 2016 Living in New York and exploring all the wondrous cultural opportunities the city offers can satisfy even the most voracious appetite for entertainment; yet, it can also deplete your bank account in the process. As millennials' spending power continues to rise, purveyors of the performing arts are becoming in-tune to their increasing consumer cravings for meaningful outings and experiences. The most renowned theaters--on and off Broadway, museums and concert venues are complying to fulfill their cultural and affordable tastes. We've compiled a list of arts institutions in all the various genres that will appeal to this demographic, as well as their collective wallets and pocketbooks. BROADWAY AND OFF-BROADWAY Lincoln Center Forget those rush lines! LincTix gives access to stellar Broadway performances for those aged 21-35. Lincoln Center's youth-oriented program courts patrons in this age group - to pur ...
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Huffington Post article
It's A Man's World When It Comes To Climate Change
Huffington Post - 4 months
Leonardo DiCaprio's new documentary, Before The Flood, debuted October 30th on National Geographic. DiCaprio and Director Fisher Stevens should be applauded for completing this excellent and much-needed film. However, there is an elephant in the room regarding the relative absence of women in this and most other media efforts to address climate change. Before the Flood features three women (out of DiCaprio's 28 interviews) whose voices comprise a total of seven minutes of the film. While unintentional in its lack of female representation, Before the Flood illustrates the wider problem of a disturbing gender imbalance at the highest levels of the climate crisis. This week, Glamour magazine exclaimed "climate change is sexist." The headline may be emotive, but evidence shows women are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of climate change because they are over-represented among the poor and more vulnerable to natural disasters than men. Women also contribute significant ...
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Huffington Post article
Gabourey Sidibe: In This Election, 'Apathy Is Not An Option'
Huffington Post - 4 months
Gabourey Sidibe is reminding undecided voters that “apathy is not an option” in a new pro-Hillary Clinton campaign ad titled, “Girl, Just Vote.”   Directed by “Precious” producer Lisa Corté​s, the Humanity for Hillary PSA illustrates a witty text conversation between Sidibe and a friend, who is unsure her vote will make a difference in the election. In a statement to The Huffington Post, Corté​s says she was inspired to create a visual clip using GIFs and memes ― featuring Beyonce and Tim Kaine ― to reflect how millennials communicate and to stress the importance of voter engagement. “I was thinking about a conversation that I had with Gabby and how lively it was when we had incorporated GIFs to underscore our thoughts,” she said. “I can’t think of a better mode than the moving image to impart th​e importance of this message for voter engagement.​” Corté​s’ personal advice to Americans? “Too much is at stake with this election. As James Brown said we ha ...
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Huffington Post article
Trump's Lounge Act Grows Stale
Huffington Post - 5 months
He isn't taking on Washington, he's taking on reality. Sometimes a politician rises not despite his pathologies, but because they suit the moment. Donald Trump's vulgarity, crude insults, and braggadocio fired the resentments of Republican primary voters and rode them to the nomination. His racism and sexism were not a problem with them. He read the room, as a performer would say, and gave it what it wanted. His diehards thought they were his accomplices, though they were his marks. Seasons and audiences change. The trash talk that got Trump attention in the noisy lounge of the primaries does not work in the main room of the general election. I owe this metaphor to Rev. Al Sharpton, who learned about performance venues long ago from singer James Brown and shared it with Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart last year. But Sharpton, like most in the commentariat, thought Trump's act wouldn't work at all in a presidential campaign. He told Capehart, "You can't t ...
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Huffington Post article
2nd man gets murder charge in slaying that led to Tyshawn Lee's killing
Chicago Times - 5 months
A second man has been charged in the 2015 shooting death of a rival, a killing that Chicago police say was part of the retaliatory violence that led to the slaying of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. In a hearing before Cook County Judge James Brown, Christopher Smith, 24, was ordered held without bail...
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Chicago Times article
When 'Colored' Turned 'Black'
Huffington Post - 5 months
As a white teenage civil rights marcher in the 60's, I remember when 'Colored' became 'Black,' and suddenly I was an outsider. It was proposed that if we Caucasians could call ourselves 'White' and take pride in our various European heritages, former Negro slaves could call themselves 'Black' and take pride in their African heritage. However, with that Black and White distinction, an 'us' and 'them' mentality was also implanted. Black Nationalism I understood the concept of instilling pride in a people that had never known it, and promoting a feeling of 'community,' as Blacks began referring to themselves as 'brothers' and 'sisters.' But I had a problem with the 'Black Separatism' of Stokely Carmichael, advocating what looked to me like self-ghettoization. However, what 'Black Power' was actually advocating was a form of unionism. Like the labor union struggles with their corporate bosses, the American Negro was fighting for equal rights with the 'White' establishment. And ...
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Huffington Post article
James Brown wins US International Figure Skating Classic
Fox News - 5 months
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) American Jason Brown won the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic on Friday night.
Article Link:
Fox News article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of James Brown
  • 2006
    Age 72
    Complete singles reissue In 2006, Hip-O Select Records began a multi-volume reissue of James Brown's complete singles (both A-sides and B-sides) on CD.
    More Details Hide Details Eleven volumes have been released, covering the periods 1956–60, 1960–63, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–69, 1969–70, 1970–72, 1972–73, 1973–75, 1975–79, and 1979–81. Games Television Music Footnotes Other references
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Brown had originally been scheduled 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. 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. Jimmy Page has remarked, "He 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 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    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.
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    A separate, private memorial service was also held in North Augusta, South Carolina on December 29, 2006, which was attended by Brown's family.
    More Details Hide Details 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, 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.
    After Brown's death, Brown's relatives, 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.
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    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 the age of 73, with his personal manager Charles Bobbit at his bedside.
    More Details Hide Details According to Bobbit, Brown stuttered "I'm going away tonight", and then took three long, quiet breaths and fell asleep before dying.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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, his longtime personal manager and friend, Brown had a noisy cough since he returned from a November trip to Europe. Bobbit added that the singer never complained about being sick, and often performed while ill. Although Brown had to cancel upcoming shows in Waterbury, Connecticut and Englewood, New Jersey, he 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.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Before his death, Brown had been scheduled to perform a duet with singer Annie Lennox on the song "Vengeance" for her new album Venus, which was released in 2007.
    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.
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    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.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details The following day, August 21, he performed at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, at a small theatre (800 seats) on campus.
    In 2006, Brown continued his "Seven Decades of Funk World Tour", his last concert tour where he performed all over the world.
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    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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  • 2005
    Age 71
    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".
    More Details Hide Details The previous week he had performed a duet with another British pop star, Joss Stone, on the United Kingdom chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details In February and March, he participated in recording sessions for an intended studio album with Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, and other longtime collaborators.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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".
    During the 47th Annual Grammy Award presentation held on February 13, 2005, James Brown shared the stage with the R&B superstar Usher.
    More Details Hide Details Usher came out performing his hit song "Caught Up" from his Grammy Award-winning album Confessions. Usher was joined on stage by his idol Brown and together they danced to Brown's "Sex Machine". Brown after the performance shared an embrace with Usher and dubbed him "the Godson of Soul".
    In January 2005 a woman named Jacque Hollander filed a lawsuit against James Brown, which stemmed from an alleged 1988 rape.
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  • 2004
    Age 70
    Hynie claimed he married her to obtain residency through a Green Card and that the marriage was annulled but the annulment did not occur until April 2004.
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    In 2004, Brown performed in Hyde Park, London as a support act for Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts.
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  • 2002
    Age 68
    On December 23, 2002, Brown and Hynie held a wedding ceremony that was officiated by the Rev. Larry Flyer.
    More Details Hide Details Following Brown's death, controversy surrounded the circumstances of the marriage, with Brown's attorney, Albert "Buddy" Dallas, reporting that the marriage was not valid; Hynie was still married to Javed Ahmed, a man from Bangladesh.
    In 2002, Brown appeared in Undercover Brother, playing himself.
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    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.
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  • 2001
    Age 67
    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.
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    Brown then appeared in Tony Scott's short film Beat the Devil in 2001.
    More Details Hide Details He was featured alongside Clive Owen, Gary Oldman, Danny Trejo and Marilyn Manson.
  • 1998
    Age 64
    Brown's final studio albums, I'm Back and The Next Step, were released in 1998 and 2002 respectively.
    More Details Hide Details 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 he 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.
  • 1997
    Age 63
    A ceremony was held for Brown on January 10, 1997 to honor him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
    More Details Hide Details On June 15, 2000 Brown was honored as an inductee to the New York Songwriters Hall of Fame. On August 6, 2002 he 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.
  • 1995
    Age 61
    In 1995, Brown returned to the Apollo and recorded Live at the Apollo 1995.
    More Details Hide Details It included a studio track titled "Respect Me", which was released as a single; again it failed to chart.
  • 1993
    Age 59
    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.
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    The bridge was officially dedicated in September 1993, and James Brown appeared at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the event.
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    Brown continued making recordings. In 1993 his album Universal James was released.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1992
    Age 58
    On February 25, 1992 Brown was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 34th annual Grammy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details Exactly a year later, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 4th annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards.
  • 1991
    Age 57
    On June 10, 1991, James Brown and a star-filled line up performed before a crowd at the Wiltern Theatre for a live pay-per-view at-home audience.
    More Details Hide Details James Brown: Living in America – Live! was the brainchild of Indiana producer Danny Hubbard. It featured M.C. Hammer as well as Bell Biv Devoe, the Boys, En Vogue, C+C Music Factory, Quincy Jones, Sherman Hemsley and Keenen Ivory Wayans. Ice-T, Tone Loc and Kool Moe Dee performed paying homage to Brown. This was Brown's first public performance since his parole from the South Carolina prison system in February. He had served two-and-a-half years of two concurrent six-year sentences for aggravated assault and other felonies.
    He returned to music with the album Love Over-Due in 1991.
    More Details Hide Details 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; both listed Brown as their idol. Both musicians also sampled his 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.
  • 1988
    Age 54
    After a 1988 arrest for 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 Sonya Friedman, refusing to discuss the domestic issue with Rodriguez, and wanting instead to focus on his professional life.
    More Details Hide Details At one point during the interview, Brown began shouting out his song titles to one of Friedman's questions. The interview later went viral and led some to assume that Brown was either drunk or on drugs. One of Brown's former mistresses recalled in a 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 Kool cigarettes. In January 1998 he spent a week in rehab to deal with an addiction to prescription drugs. A week after his release he was arrested for an unlawful use of a handgun and possession of cannabis. 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. Brown was arrested in May 1988 on drug and weapons charges, and again on September 24, 1988, following a 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 on parole on February 27, 1991 after serving two years of his sentence.
    In 1988, Brown worked with the production team Full Force on the new jack swing-influenced album I'm Real.
    More Details Hide Details 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 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, entitled James Brown: The Man, the Message, the Music, released in 1992.
  • 1987
    Age 53
    In 1987, Brown won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Living in America".
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  • 1986
    Age 52
    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 his autobiography, James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, co-written with Bruce Tucker.
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    A year later he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and issued the moderately successful album Gravity in 1986.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1984
    Age 50
    His third marriage was to Adrienne Lois Rodriguez (March 9, 1950 – January 6, 1996), in 1984.
    More Details Hide Details It was 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.
    In 1984, he teamed with rap musician Afrika Bambaattaa on the song "Unity".
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  • 1981
    Age 47
    After two more albums failed to chart, Brown left Polydor in 1981.
    More Details Hide Details 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). The band retained that name until his death. Despite the decline in his 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).
  • 1979
    Age 45
    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.
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  • 1976
    Age 42
    After 1976's "Bodyheat", he also failed to appear on the Billboard Hot 100.
    More Details Hide Details As a result, Brown's concert attendance began dropping and his reported disputes with the IRS caused his business 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 because its slicker, more commercial style had superseded his more raw funk productions.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Brown credited his then-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 that ran for three years. 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.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 he continued to occasionally have Top 10 R&B recordings.
  • 1974
    Age 40
    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".
    More Details Hide Details 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 him as a major influence on their own styles. However Brown, like others who were influenced by his music, also "borrowed" from other musicians.
  • 1973
    Age 39
    Brown's eldest son, Teddy, died in a car crash on June 14, 1973.
    More Details Hide Details 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 first 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 had a strict drug and alcohol-free policy for any member in his entourage, including band members, and would fire 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. Despite the policy, some of the original members of Brown's 1970s band, the J.B.'s, including Catfish and Bootsy Collins, intentionally took 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.
    In 1973, Brown provided the score for the blaxploitation film Black Caesar.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 he 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 had claimed he owed nearly $2 million.
  • 1972
    Age 38
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 96-year-old, former Dixiecrat Senator 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 Washington 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."
    During the 1972 presidential election, James Brown openly proclaimed his support of Richard Nixon for reelection of the presidency over Democratic candidate George McGovern.
    More Details Hide Details The decision led to a boycott of his performances and, according to Brown, cost him a big portion of his black audience.
  • 1971
    Age 37
    In 1971, Brown began recording for Polydor Records which also took over distribution of Brown's King Records catalog.
    More Details Hide Details Many of his sidemen and supporting players, including 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.
  • 1970
    Age 36
    Brown's second marriage was to Deidre "Deedee" Jenkins, on October 22, 1970. The couple were separated by 1979 and final divorce decree was issued on January 10, 1981.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details Brown and erstwhile Famous Flames singer Bobby Byrd (who chose 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 cement 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.
  • 1969
    Age 35
    Over a decade later, the couple had separated and the final divorce decree was issued 1969; they maintained a close friendship that lasted until Brown's death.
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    Brown began supporting Republican president Richard Nixon after being invited to perform at Nixon's inaugural ball in January 1969.
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  • 1968
    Age 34
    During the 1968 presidential campaign, Brown endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and appeared with Humphrey at political rallies.
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    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).
    More Details Hide Details 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. 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..
    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".
    More Details Hide Details He also released three albums of Christmas music with his own band.
  • 1967
    Age 33
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    By 1967, Brown's emerging sound had begun to be defined as funk music.
    More Details Hide Details 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 (Top 10 Pop) 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.
  • 1965
    Age 31
    Later in 1965, he 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1964
    Age 30
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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' dynamic gospel-tinged vocals, polished choreography and timing as well as Brown's energetic dance moves and high-octane singing upstaged the proposed closing act, the Rolling Stones. Having signed a new deal with King, Brown released his song "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", which became his first top ten pop hit and won him his first Grammy Award.
  • 1963
    Age 29
    In 1963, Brown scored his first top 20 pop hit with his rendition of the standard "Prisoner of Love".
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1962
    Age 28
    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 belief that no one would buy a live album due to the fact that Brown's singles had already been bought and that live albums were usually bad sellers.
    More Details Hide Details 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 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1960
    Age 26
    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.
    More Details Hide Details That year the band released the top ten R&B hit "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" on Dade Records, owned by Henry Stone, billed 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 the parent label, King, which according to Brown in his autobiography meant "you got more support from the company". While with 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 sang lead on several more hits, including "I'll Go Crazy" and "Think", songs that hinted at his emerging style.
  • 1959
    Age 25
    Brown, the Flames, and his entire band debuted at the Apollo Theater on April 24, 1959, opening for Little Willie John.
    More Details Hide Details Federal Records issued two albums credited to Brown and the Famous Flames.
  • 1958
    Age 24
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly afterwards, he 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".
  • 1957
    Age 23
    By 1957, Brown had replaced Clint Brantley as manager and hired Ben Bart, chief of Universal Attractions Agency.
    More Details Hide Details That year the original Flames broke up, after Bart changed the name of the group to "James Brown and The Famous Flames".
  • 1955
    Age 21
    By 1955, the group had contacted Little Richard, who was idolized by Brown, while performing in Macon.
    More Details Hide Details Richard convinced the group to get in contact with his manager at the time, Clint Brantley, at his nightclub. Brantley agreed to manage them after seeing the group audition. He 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 gained similar success.
  • 1953
    Age 19
    Brown was married four times. His first marriage was to Velma Warren in 1953.
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  • 1952
    Age 18
    He was paroled on June 14, 1952.
    More Details Hide Details Upon his release, Brown joined a gospel group and had several jobs, working for the Lawson Motor Company and as a janitor at a local school. Brown and Bobby Byrd reportedly met and became friends following Brown's release from prison. Brown joined Byrd's group, which performed under two names: the Gospel Starlighters, an a cappella gospel group, and the Avons, an R&B band. He reputedly joined the band after one of its members, Troy Collins, was killed. Along 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 its 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, by which time Pulliam and Oglesby had long left.
  • 1944
    Age 10
    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".
    More Details Hide Details 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 near his aunt's home. He learned to play the piano, guitar and harmonica during this period. He became inspired to become an entertainer after hearing "Caldonia" by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. In his teen years, Brown briefly had a career as a boxer. At the age of 16, he was convicted of robbery and was sent to a juvenile detention center in Toccoa. There he formed a gospel quartet with four fellow cellmates, including Johnny Terry. Stories differ as to how Brown was eventually paroled. According to one story, Bobby Byrd's family helped to secure an early release, while another story stated that Brown got his parole after S.C. Lawson, the owner of a car and motor manufacturing company, agreed to sponsor him after Brown had promised to look for a job guaranteed for two years.
  • 1933
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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. He later legally changed his name to remove "Jr." His parents were both black; in his autobiography, Brown stated that he also had Chinese and Native American ancestry. The Brown family lived in extreme poverty in Elko, South Carolina, which was an impoverished town at the time. They later moved to Augusta, Georgia, when James was four or five. His family first settled at one of his aunts' brothels. They 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. He managed to stay in school until the sixth grade.
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