‘The Godfather of Soul’, ‘The hardest working man in show business’, and much more were the common titles given to James Brown during his lifetime. The Singer, record producer, dancer, musician, and bandleader lived an eventful life. He was deserving of so many titles because he worked hard enough for them. James Brown was an icon for soul and funk music. His career lasted as long as 50 years.
The Right from the beginning, James Brown had it tough. He was born in a shack to a 16-year-old Susie Behling and a 22-year-old Joseph Brown. The small family lived in complete poverty in South Carolina. They moved to Georgia when James was 4-years old and stayed in a brothel owned by an aunt. They moved again to another aunt’s home. By this time, his mother left the family stating abuse in her marriage. James continued a childhood of poverty and worked any odd jobs he could get from the age of 4. He shined shoes, danced for soldiers, picked cotton, and washed cars. The pay was always in pennies. James wore his first real underwear bought from a store at 9 years old. He previously wore clothing made from sackcloth.
He was sent out of school at 12-years old for lack of clothing. James then took to the streets as a teenager and had a brief career as a boxer. He became involved in crime. Although James’ musical talent had surfaced, his hard life and wrong associations often got in the way. He had learned how to play different instruments in between these problems. By the age of 16, he was arrested for robbery and sent to a juvenile prison. While in detention, James turned to the gospel and formed a gospel group with some cellmates. After prison, Brown turned briefly to sports; boxing and playing baseball. Then, Bobby Byrd, a friend James met during his time in detention, invited him to join an R&B group known as The Gospel Starlighters. With his dominating talent and character, James soon became the group’s leader, and it was renamed the Famous Flames.
The Famous Flames recorded a song called ‘Please, Please, Please’. The Band became popular and started their tour. They recorded many more songs including I’ll go crazy, Think, Night Train, and Try Me. All songs featured James in lead positions. James Brown delved into his career of soul and funk music.
He was an advocate for education, humanitarianism, civil rights, and self-reliance. While James sang at civil rights rallies, he avoided promoting them in his songs for fear of losing his white audience.
James could hardly have a stable relationship with so much devotion to his career. He was faulted for domestic abuse of women he dated and three failed marriages. James had over nine children from different women. He went through drug abuse and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. The singer had a bad habit of working while sick and on December 25, 2006, James died from congestive heart failure.