Biography of James Brown

Biography of James Brown

James Brown was a musical genius who was commonly referred to as “the godfather of Soul” along with many other nicknames such as “the sex machine” and “Mr. Dynamite”. James Brown was born in Barnwell South Carolina, as James Joe Brown Jr on May 3, 1933. Browns family was very poor and could not afford clothes for their children, so they used old rags and socks to make up articles of clothes to go out in. When Brown as four years old his parents split up, and browns mother (Susie) left Brown with his father (Joe) who would care for him. Not being able to find work, Joe moved Brown and his aunt to Georgia to live with his aunt who was a madam and ran a brothel in Atlanta Georgia.

When Brown was young and his family did not have enough money to buy him clothes, he used old rags and socks to make him clothes and boxers. He worked numerous jobs as a child to try and earn money so can he could afford to buy clothes to go to school in. He shined people’s shoes, and danced by a nearby navy yard for money. When Brown turned 12 years old his school kicked him out for having insufficient clothing. It was in the middle of the great depression and Brown turned to working his jobs full time for money. One day Brown father brought home an old pump organ in which Brown played and discovered he had a natural talent for music. This is also the start of his singing in the choir at his church which inspired him to become a musician. Life wasn’t easy being poor, so to make up for the money Brown needed to survive, he started stealing from unlocked cars. When brown was sixteen he got caught stealing a car and received a sentence of three years in prison.

While Brown was in jail he made a friend that would lead him to great success. Two years after being released from jail, Brown received a phone call from this friend, Bobby Byrd, inviting him to become a member of his soul singing group. James accepted and soon became the head vocalist in the group and renamed it “The Famous Flames” in 1956. They performed at night clubs and recorded a song called “Please, Please, Please” for King Records and became number 6 on the R&B charts. Within months they had their first contract. They toured for a year doing openings for people like Ray Charles and Little Richie, but their success was short lived because none of their other songs rose to the same success as their original hit “Please, Please, Please”, so they returned home in 1957.
Although the Famous Flames did not reach super-stardom, Browns single act did and his career took off. James moved to New York and recorded “Try Me” which reached number 1 on the R&B music charts. From then on, James Brown’s career was kick started. James Brown was described to be a soulful singer and musician by his fans. Brown constantly toured and came up with different dances such as; the mash potato, the popcorn and the camel walk. Brown married numerous times to many different woman in his career in this order, Velma Warren 1953 (divorced 1969); Deidre Jenkins 1970 (divorced 1981), Adrienne Lois Rodriguez 1984 (died 1996); and Tomi Rae Hynie who was his final wife.
On October 24th, 1962 in Apollo Theater in Harlem Brown recorded a live concert that his record label King Records, did not think would be a good idea. Soon after his live performance rose to number 2 on the charts for pop music, and showed his fans as well as his record company that he could perform many different types of music. By 1967 brown had made all different types of music including Jazz, Pop and R&B music. He toured, made and performed many of his hits including “It’s a Man’s World”; Papa’s got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You”. Although Browns music was tailored towards an older audience, he also used his fame to reach out to the younger black community and encourage them to stay in school. In 1966, Brown recorded a song called “Don’t be a Drop Out” as a plea to the black community to stay in school.
Not only was James brown a powerful soul, R&B, Jazz and sometimes Rap Musician, He also was a social activist for the black community. James Brown coming from poverty and not being able to get a proper education when he was younger, supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s efforts to empower the black community. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, in1968 James Brown took to the TV to perform a concert to prevent people from rioting and succeeded. Months later Brown Recorded a song that would later be sung passionately by his peers and the black community years to come named “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.
James Brown In the 1970’s and 1980’s wrote many hits but in 1970’s his career fell off track due to financial troubles. In 1980, Brown made a comeback in the film The Blues Brothers. In 1985 he wrote a hit called “Living in America” that was featured in the movie “Rocky IV” and put the king of soul back on top. In 1986 Brown released his first book titled James Brown; The Godfather of Soul. Although his career was back on the rise, in 1988 when brown attended a school to speak, he showed up high on PCP and carrying a shot gun. He took the police on a half hour chase through Georgia before he was captured and sentenced to 15 months in prison. In 1991 when Brown was released he began touring and performing again only to discharge a rifle and yet again lead the cops on another car chase and be sentenced to 90 days in a rehabilitation center to get sober.
When brown was released from rehab, he continued making hits and even starring in some movies including The Tuxedo with Jackie Chan, and Undercover Brother as the star. In 2005 he released his second book, I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life and Soul. The following year in 2006 Brown struggled with a case of pneumonia in which he did not survive, passing on Christmas day. James Brown left behind ten children, five girls and five boys, as well as millions of fans that will miss and never forget him.

James Brown, (last visited Apr 22 2015).
Brown, James. (last visited May 6 2015)
White, Cliff. (last visited May 6, 2015)

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