“Godfather of Soul” James Brown Passes on Christmas Day

James BrownATLANTA (Reuters) – James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” whose voice, showmanship and bold rhythms brought funk into the mainstream and influenced a generation of black music, died on Christmas morning at age 73.

Brown died of congestive heart failure at 1:45 a.m. (0645 GMT) on Monday at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, his lawyer Joel Katz told a news conference.

According to Forbes:

Brown’s classic singles include “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” “(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 told The Associated Press in 2003. “The song showed even people to that day that lyrics and music and a song can change society.”

He won a Grammy 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 Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

Brown, who lived in Beech Island, S.C., near the Georgia line, triumphed despite a turbulent personal life and charges of abusing drugs and alcohol. After a widely publicized, drug-fueled confrontation with police in 1988 that ended in an interstate car chase, Brown spent more than two years in prison for aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police officer.

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.

Here is what a few people had to say about him.

President George W Bush:

“For half a century, the innovative talent of the Godfather of Soul enriched our culture and influenced generations of musicians.”

Al Sharpton:

“James Brown changed music,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, who toured with him in the 1970s and imitates his hairstyle to this day.

“He made soul music a world music,” Sharpton said. “What James Brown was to music in terms of soul and hip-hop, rap, all of that, is what Bach was to classical music. This is a guy who literally changed the music industry. He put everybody on a different beat, a different style of music. He pioneered it.”

“He made soul an international music genre. There would never have been a Michael Jackson or a Prince without James Brown. He used to tell me that Elvis and him were the only American originals.”

Little Richard:

“He was an innovator, he was an emancipator, he was an originator. Rap music, all that stuff came from James Brown.”

Jesse Jackson:

“He was dramatic to the end – dying on Christmas Day. Almost a dramatic, poetic moment. He’ll be all over the news all over the world today. He would have it no other way.”

Rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy

“James presented obviously the best grooves. To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one’s coming even close.”

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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