- Category : Entertain-Music-Conductor
- Type : PE
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Incarnation 1
James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American recording artist and musician. One of the founding fathers of funk music and a major figure of 20th-century popular music and dance, he is often referred to as "The Godfather of Soul". In a career that spanned six decades, Brown influenced the development of several music genres.
Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia. Joining an R&B vocal group called the Avons that later evolved to become The Famous Flames, Brown served as the group's lead singer. First coming to national public attention in the late 1950s as a member of The Flames with the ballads "Please, Please, Please" and "Try Me", Brown built a reputation as a tireless live performer with the singing group The Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra. Brown's success peaked in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", "I Got You" and "It's a Man's Man's Man's World". During the late 1960s, Brown moved from a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly "Africanized" approach to music-making that influenced the development of funk music. By the early 1970s, Brown had fully established the funk sound after the formation of The J.B.'s with records such as "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" and "The Payback". Brown also became notable for songs of social commentary, including the 1968 hit "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud". Brown continued to perform and record for the duration of his life until his death in 2006 from congestive heart failure.
Brown recorded 16 number-one singles on the Billboard R&B charts. Brown also holds the record as the artist to have charted the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 which did not reach number one on that chart. Brown was honored by many institutions including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Joel Whitburn's analysis of the Billboard R&B charts from 1942 to 2010, Hot R&B Songs, James Brown is ranked as number one in The Top 500 Artists. Brown is ranked seventh on the music magazine Rolling Stone's list of its 100 greatest artists of all time.
James 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. 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. Brown later legally changed his name to remove the "Jr." designation. His parents were both African-American; in his autobiography, Brown stated that he also had Chinese and Native American ancestry. The Brown family lived in extreme poverty in nearby Elko, South Carolina, which was an impoverished town at the time. They later relocated to Augusta, Georgia, when Brown was four or five. Brown's family first settled at one of his aunts' brothels and 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. Brown managed to stay in school until sixth grade.
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". 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 from near his aunt's home. Brown learned how to play piano, guitar and harmonica during this period. Brown became inspired to become an entertainer after seeing footage of Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five performing "Caldonia" in a short film. During his teen years, Brown briefly had a career as a boxer. At 16, Brown was convicted of robbery and was sent to a juvenile detention center in Toccoa. Brown formed a gospel quartet with four fellow cellmates, including Johnny Terry. Stories differ as to how Brown was eventually paroled, including a story that Bobby Byrd's family had helped to secure an early release, while another stated that Brown got his parole after a car and motor manufacturing company owner, S.C. Lawson, agreed to be a sponsor after Brown had promised to look for a job guaranteed for two years. Brown was paroled on June 14, 1952. Upon his release, Brown joined a gospel group and worked at several jobs, including the Lawson Motor Company and as a janitor at a local school. Brown and Bobby Byrd reportedly met following his release from prison and the two became friends.