Today, December 25, 2006 - Christmas Day - will be remembered as the day Soul Music died... or, at least, its Godfather. James Brown died Monday morning, after being hospitalized for pneumonia on Christmas Eve. He was 73 (hat-tip to blogger Sashi for alerting Walski to this sad news). As of this post, the actual cause of death is unknown, although Brown was admitted to the Emory Crawford Long Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia, a day earlier.
In a career that spans close to five decades, James Brown played a major role in the evolution of gospel and rhythm-n-blues, into soul and funk (source: Wikipedia).
His contributions have not only been confined to these two genres of music, but have touched just about every genre of popular music in the last 40 years, including rock, rap, dance, jazz, reggae, and electronica. He has also been dubbed "The Original Disco Man" (title of his 1979 album release).
(more James Brown rememberance in the full post)
James Brown was born James Joseph Brown, Jr. in South Carolina on May 3, 1933. His early years were troubled, and he landed in juvenile detention at the age of sixteen, after being convicted of armed robbery. That, as fans know, would not be his last brush with the law.
But music would prove to become his true calling. Although his early career started off with gospel, he soon moved towards more the secular rhythm and blues. But the standard gospel/R&B compositions which characterize his early career soon evolved into a more rhythmic and improvisational sound, which some have called the "James Brown sound".
His energetic on-stage persona has also been legendary, and up until 2001 (according to his website) James Brown continued to perform 150 days in a year. His last performance in the region would probably have been the Tsunami relief Jazz Festival in Jakarta, in March 2005.
For those interested, the following are some James Brown related sites worth checking out:
- James Brown official website
- Photo archive (by rock photographer Chris Walter)
- Rolling Stone interview, "Being James Brown" (also available as a podcast)
- "Audience with the Godfather", from The Hour (dated December 21, 2006)
- Wikipedia's James Brown page
Popular music has lost yet another icon - perhaps one of the most important figures in late 20th century popular music.
May you rest in peace, Soul Brother Number One. (Or maybe, be as riotous a personality in the other place, as he was in this life?)