Friday, December 25, 2009

Died on this date:

James Brown
aka The Godfather of Soul
May 3, 1933-Dec. 25, 2006
(Age 73)

I saw James Brown perform numerous times in the 60' and 70's.  He was indeed the "hardest working man in show business."  He was also, without dispute, a legendary musical innovator that paved the way for Michael Jackson and Prince just to name two performers who came closest to generating the kind of excitement of a James Brown show.   James Brown (and the Famous Flames) and his band (oh, my god, that band!) were a textbook study in how to build excitement in a live show.  By the time James was led off the stage with that cape around him, only to throw it off because he just had to come back and give some more, the crowd would be in an uncontrollable frenzy.  I know I'll get an argument on this but James Brown in his prime would make Michael Jackson look like he was dancing in a river of glue.  James Brown Live at the Apollo is one of the greatest live R&B albums ever recorded.

James's personal life was complicated as it usually is for larger than life performers like The Godfather of Soul.  Multiple marriages, jail time, spousal abuse, illegitimate children nothing in the panoply of soul star pathologies could slow down the hardest working man in show business.  James Brown was still hitting the stage right up to the end.

From congestive heart failure and complications of pneumonia.  James Brown is interred in a temporary crypt at the home of Deanna Brown Thomas, one of his daughters.  Plans for a permanent memorial are still being determined.

Wikipedia has an extensive overview of the man and his legend.

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