I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS

...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Awwww, man! James Brown dead at 73

Not to be a downer on this fine, fantastic Christmas morning, but James Brown died early today. He was unparalleled, an absolute legend who contributed in massive ways to the sounds of soul and funk, and will be missed in a huge way.

Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto - James Brown

That's Life - James Brown


. . . And the granddaddy of them all, with that teasing, sublime guitar lick:

Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine - James Brown
(If you are able to sit still while you listen to this, let me know how you do it)


From the NY Times
ATLANTA (AP) -- James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured ''Godfather of Soul,'' whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Longtime friend Charles Bobbit was by his side, he said.

Copsidas said the cause of death was uncertain. ''We really don't know at this point what he died of,'' he said.

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's ''Fame,'' Prince's ''Kiss,'' George Clinton's ''Atomic Dog'' and Sly and the Family Stone's ''Sing a Simple Song'' were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style.

If Brown's claim to the invention of soul can be challenged by fans of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, then his rights to the genres of rap, disco and funk are beyond question. He was to rhythm and dance music what Dylan was to lyrics: the unchallenged popular innovator.

''James presented obviously the best grooves,'' rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy once told The Associated Press. ''To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one's coming even close.''

His hit singles include such classics as ''Out of Sight,'' ''(Get Up I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,'' ''I Got You (I Feel Good)'' and ''Say It Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud,'' a landmark 1968 statement of racial pride.

''I clearly remember we were calling ourselves colored, and after the song, we were calling ourselves black,'' Brown said in a 2003 Associated Press interview. ''The song showed even people to that day that lyrics and music and a song can change society.''

He won a Grammy award for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for ''Papa's Got a Brand New Bag'' (best R&B recording) and for ''Living In America'' in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male.) He was one of the initial artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

He triumphed despite an often unhappy personal life. Brown, who lived in Beech Island near the Georgia line, spent more than two years in a South Carolina prison for aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police officer. After his release on in 1991, Brown said he wanted to ''try to straighten out'' rock music.

From the 1950s, when Brown had his first R&B hit, ''Please, Please, Please'' in 1956, through the mid-1970s, Brown went on a frenzy of cross-country tours, concerts and new songs. He earned the nickname ''The Hardest Working Man in Show Business'' and often tried to prove it to his fans, said Jay Ross, his lawyer of 15 years.

Brown would routinely lose two or three pounds each time he performed and kept his furious concert schedule in his later years even as he fought prostate cancer, Ross said.

''He'd always give it his all to give his fans the type of show they expected,'' he said.

With his tight pants, shimmering feet, eye makeup and outrageous hair, Brown set the stage for younger stars such as Michael Jackson and Prince.

In 1986, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And rap stars of recent years overwhelmingly have borrowed his lyrics with a digital technique called sampling.

Brown's work has been replayed by the Fat Boys, Ice-T, Public Enemy and a host of other rappers. ''The music out there is only as good as my last record,'' Brown joked in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

''Disco is James Brown, hip-hop is James Brown, rap is James Brown; you know what I'm saying? You hear all the rappers, 90 percent of their music is me,'' he told the AP in 2003.

Born in poverty in Barnwell, S.C., in 1933, he was abandoned as a 4-year-old to the care of relatives and friends and grew up on the streets of Augusta, Ga., in an ''ill-repute area,'' as he once called it. There he learned to wheel and deal.

''I wanted to be somebody,'' Brown said.

By the eighth grade in 1949, Brown had served 3 1/2 years in Alto Reform School near Toccoa, Ga., for breaking into cars.

While there, he met Bobby Byrd, whose family took Brown into their home. Byrd also took Brown into his group, the Gospel Starlighters. Soon they changed their name to the Famous Flames and their style to hard R&B.

In January 1956, King Records of Cincinnati signed the group, and four months later ''Please, Please, Please'' was in the R&B Top Ten.

Pete Allman, a radio personality in Las Vegas who had been friends with Brown for 15 years, credited Brown with jump-starting his career and motivating him personally and professionally.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He will be missed. Get on up!

6 Comments:

At December 25, 2006 12:31 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Yeah that was a real bummer to find out at 3 or 4 in the morning. He was supposed to play some casino in Ontario in early January. Really caught me by surprise. Hope you have a good holidays.

 
At December 25, 2006 12:47 PM, Blogger pg said...

nice post. best and most appropriate headline on this yet...

 
At December 25, 2006 10:03 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Our local news anchor/mannequin opened this evening's newscast with this:

"Singer James Taylor died today..."

You couldn't find two more completely different artists!

RIP James Brown. Take your vitamins, James Taylor.

 
At December 26, 2006 4:28 AM, Blogger Ed said...

This is a really great post on an extremely important artist - will be recommending my readers come here.

Impressive dedication to Blogging posting on Christmas Day too...

Happy New Year, Ed (17 seconds)

 
At December 26, 2006 8:58 AM, Blogger SINEDDIE said...

Fame by (Bowie /Lennon / Alomar)
influenced by James Brown....Hmm...I think that is kind of a big stretch there kid....Otherwise, nice article.

 
At December 26, 2006 3:01 PM, Blogger Philco Brothers said...

Yes James Brown actually ripped off Bowie's "Fame" for his own song "Hot". The only JB albums I own are a Christmas one and an old cassette of Live at The Apollo and they're both great.

 

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