Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Brown was a singer, songwriter, bandleader and dancer known as “The Godfather Of Soul.” Members of his band have said that he was very demanding, but could bring out their great performances.
In the ’60s and ’70s, he regularly topped the R&B charts, and although he never had a #1 Pop hit, he charted 96 songs on the Hot 100, second only to Elvis.
His stage moves were legendary, with spins, shuffles and incredibly quick footwork. These moves were emulated by many performers, including Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson.
At the end of the ’60s, he owned a publishing company, three radio stations and a Learjet.
Brown valued an organic sound with live instruments. “A computer don’t breathe, it sounds mechanical, no dynamics at all,” he told Q magazine in 2006.
In January 2004, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge after his 33-year-old wife, Tomi Rea Brown, called police to report that Brown pushed her onto the ground during an argument. She suffered scratches and bruises on her arm and hip. Brown ended up pleading no contest and paid $1,087 as punishment.
In December 1988, James Brown was sentenced to a 6-year prison sentence after being arrested on several assault, drug possession, and vehicular charges. He was released on February 27, 1991. A year later he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at that Grammy Awards.
In 1985, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of its first members.
He was imprisoned for petty theft in 1949 after breaking into a car, and paroled three years later.
His first group was The Flames, and he was the drummer. He sang some lead vocals with other members and quickly became their frontman.
In 1988, intoxicated on PCP, he burst into an insurance seminar adjoining his own office in Augusta, then led police on a car chase across the South Carolina border. He was sentenced to prison for carrying a deadly weapon at a public gathering, attempting to flee a police officer and driving under the influence of drugs, and was released in 1991.
On Christmas day, 1990, he performed two sets of three songs each for soldiers at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina who had to stay there because of the impending Gulf War. Brown was given a four-day furlough from the work center where he was incarcerated in order to perform the free show. It was his first concert in two years.
He made a habit of calling of calling people “Mister,” because that’s how he liked to be addressed. This endeared him to many business partners who saw it as a sign of respect.
He died at 73 in Atlanta of congestive heart failure after being hospitalized for pneumonia.