Sly & The Family Stone
Godfather of Soul James Joseph Brown Jr. was born in South Carolina in May 1933. At an early age, he developed into a great entertainer. He earned money by dancing to crowds of WWII troops, and mastered the harmonica, guitar, piano and drums.
Brown met Bobby Byrd while in juvenile detention and, together with Byrd’s sister, formed The Flames. The group secured a record contract and had a massive hit in 1956 with ‘Please, Please, Please’. Early Brown songs have the influences of Little Richard and Ray Charles running through them. The group later billed themselves as James Brown and The Famous Flames.
They rose to prominence in 1962 with the release of the instrumental single ‘Night Train’ and even more so in 1963 with their live album ‘Live at the Apollo’. James Brown won a Grammy for ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ in 1966.
Towards the end of the 60s, Brown’s music was developing a funky edge. Instrumental track ‘Funky Drummer’ is one of the most sampled drum loops in music history. His music, together with his enormous stage presence and energetic performances, had an impact on contemporaries like Sly and the Family Stone, Edwin Starr and a young Michael Jackson. The routine where he appears exhausted and is escorted under a cape from the stage, only to reappear fully invigorated, is so notorious that it is often the subject of parody.
Brown formed a new band with Byrd in 1970 called The J.B.’s, featuring now-legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins and Fred Wesley, later of Parliament-Funkadelic. ‘Get Up (I Feel like Being A) Sex Machine’ was their debut single and was a huge sensation. Other notable achievements for Brown during the 70s were the score for blaxploitation film ‘Black Caesar’ and his performance in Zaire prior to the Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
During the 80s, James Brown cropped up in two blockbuster films: 'The Blues Brothers' and 'Rocky IV', contributing the track ‘Living in America’ to the latter.
He collaborated on tracks with MC Hammer and appeared in many films and TV programmes in the 90s. In 2006, the last year of his life, he continued his ‘Seven Decades of Funk’ world tour. The so-called Hardest Working Man in Show Business succumbed to pneumonia in December 2006. His last public appearance was in November the same year at his induction into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com.