Godfather of soul dies
Tributes flow for soul music icon
JAMES Brown — the ‘Godfather of Soul’ — knew he was about to die and told his manager and long-time friend just that before quietly slipping away.
Brown, whose voice, showmanship and bold rhythms brought funk into the mainstream and influenced a generation of black music, died on Christmas morning, aged 73.
He died of congestive heart failure at Atlanta’s Emory Crawford Long Hospital, his lawyer Joel Katz said.
Brown went to a dentist last week, who noticed himcoughing and recommended he see a doctor. He was admitted to hospital on Saturday with severe pneumonia.
‘‘He was having pain before, but then the pain went away and he told me ‘I’m going away tonight’,’’ Charles Bobbit, Brown’s personal manager and longtime friend, said.
‘‘I didn’t believe him,’’ he said, adding that Brown died quietly soon after.
Brown was one of America’s great showmen and band leaders. He created a revolutionary sound that mixed funky rhythms and staccato horns behind his own often explosive vocals.
Hip hop and rap artists revered himand extensively used his beats as the backdrop to their own music, while singers such as Michael Jackson drew on his dance style.
‘‘He’s the godfather of hip hop and rap, the father of funk,’’ his manager Frank Copsidas said, adding Brown would be buried in Augusta, Georgia.
Brown emerged from a boyhood of poverty and petty crime in Augusta in the era when the South was still segregated and began his music career in jail as a juvenile offender.
His personal life remained turbulent and he was jailed in 1988 for drug, weapons and vehicular charges after a car chase through Georgia and South Carolina which ended when police shot out the tyres of his truck. He left prison in 1991.
He was named to President Reagan’s Council Against Drugs but was arrested several times in the mid-1980s and ‘90s and charged with drug and weapons possession.
‘‘Soul is all the hard knocks, all the punishment the black man has had . . . all the unfulfilled dreams that must come true,’’ he once said.
US President George WBush said he was saddened by Brown’s death.
‘‘For half a century, the innovative talent of the ‘Godfather of Soul’ enriched our culture and influenced generations of musicians,’’ Mr Bush said.
In his final months, Brown’s health was in decline but he masked it with good diet and lots of rest to maintain his punishing schedule as the self-styled ‘hardest working man in show business’, Bobbit said.
He was due to performin Times Square, New York, on New Year’s Eve and this year alone did more than 100 live shows, Copsidas said. Brown had more than 119 charting singles and recorded more than 50 albums, was inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame and received a lifetime Grammy achievement award in 1992.
Big hits included
Please, Please, Please, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good), Get Up (I feel like being a Sex Machine), a Man’s World.
Brown, also known as ‘Mr Dynamite’, would dance himself into a controlled frenzy as part of his stage show and typically changed suits a dozen times.
He once said he aimed to wear out his audience and ‘‘give people more than what they came for - make them tired’’.
IFEEL GOOD . . . James Brown performs in the United We Stand concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC
Venisha Brown (right) near a
statue of her father
James Brown on t h e
Hollywood Walk of Fame