Soul star James Brown dies at 73

Brown won a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys in 1992
Singer James Brown, known as the "Godfather of Soul", has died at the age of 73, his agent has said.
He had been admitted to hospital in Atlanta to be treated for pneumonia but died at 0145 local time (0645 GMT), said Frank Copsidas.

The star was famous for hits including I Got You (I Feel Good), Papa's Got a Brand New Bag and Living in America.

The cause of Brown's death remained unclear at this stage, Mr Copsidas told the Associated Press.

Gospel roots

Brown was born in 1933 in South Carolina.

He joined a gospel group as a young man after his release from jail for trying to steal a car.

He had his first hit on the US rhythm and blues chart, Please Please Please, in 1956.

Brown had 94 hits on Billboard's mainstream Hot 100 in the US, according to his official website, and by the end of his career, he had a total repertoire of 800 songs.

However, he achieved only one top 10 single in the UK.

This was Living in America, from the soundtrack of the Sylvester Stallone film Rocky IV, which reached number five in 1986.

He was credited with spreading the popularity of funk around the world, influencing a new generation of black music which spawned rap and hip-hop.

Brown appeared in London in October as part of the BBC's Electric Proms line-up.

And last month he played at a ceremony which saw his induction into the UK Music Hall of Fame.

BBC Obituary for James Brown

Obituary: James Brown

The self-confessed Godfather of soul

When James Brown styled himself Soul Brother Number One, for once, this was no idle showbusiness exaggeration. His influence on popular music was, quite simply, enormous.

He transformed gospel music into rhythm and blues, and soul music into his own creation - funk - with its driving rhythms and insistent beat.

His performances remain unsurpassed for their urgency of expression and raw physicality, influencing later white rockers like Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop.

Born James Joe Brown Junior in 1933 in a one-room shack in the backwoods of South Carolina, by the age of seven he was boarding at a brothel in Augusta, Georgia.

Delighted and outraged audiences

He helped to pay the rent by shining shoes and tap-dancing in the streets.

Nine years later he was harshly punished for trying to steal a car. Sent to prison for between eight and 16 years, he eventually served only three years and a day.

Brown was a charismatic frontman
On his release, he joined a gospel group. While pursuing a promising but ultimately abortive career as a semi-professional boxer, he rose to become the leader of the James Brown Revue.

Audiences were delighted and outraged by the group's tight R&B sound, fronted by the charismatic Brown, whose stage antics caused him to shed up to seven pounds a night.

In 1956, Brown wrote the song Please, Please, Please. It sold one million copies and propelled the singer to stardom.

Other hits followed as Brown worked up to 350 nights a year, earning himself another reputation, as the hardest-working man in showbusiness.

Mould-breaking show

Though the financial returns were scant - Brown and his band members earned a derisory $150 each for Please Please Please - he refused to compromise on the quality of his performances.

His reason was simple: "When you're on stage, the people who paid money to get in are the boss, even if it cost them only a quarter. You're working for them."

The success: James Brown in the 1970s
He treated his band like an army, imposing fines for lateness, scruffy costumes and poor playing. By the early 1960s his growing reputation saw him play to packed crowds at the Mecca of black music, Harlem's Apollo Theatre.

In 1961, realising that the essence of his music could only be captured live, Brown personally financed the recording of an album at the theatre.

The result, the mould-breaking James Brown Show Live at the Apollo, was a sensation. Establishing his reputation throughout the United States, it remains one of the most critically-acclaimed live albums ever recorded.

His status was enhanced by a succession of worldwide hits like Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good) and Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine).

Presidential thanks

Artistically, James Brown was breaking new ground with a whole new musical form, funk.

Songs like Cold Sweat, where the brass section and guitars drove the rhythm, exemplified the stylistic change which Brown wrought.

Success brought great wealth. James Brown owned radio stations, fast food restaurants and a private jet.

He embraced "black capitalism" even before the phrase was coined, urging his fellow countrypeople to live the American Dream.

The prisoner: In jail in the late 1980s
He gave back, too, sponsoring food stamps for the poor and giving money and land to those in need, especially in Africa.

Some radicals, though, criticised him for his patriotism and he received death threats after playing to US troops in Vietnam.

Such was James Brown's influence that when Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, the order went out to broadcast Brown's show in Boston live across the United States.

Punctuated by his pleas for calm, the show helped to stem the tide of anger and Brown earned the personal thanks of President Lyndon Johnson.

Living in America

The 1970s were bad times for James Brown. His son Teddy died in a car accident, he himself was beset by tax problems and disco music threatened to eclipse his career.

Sheer hard work on the club circuit brought him back from the brink. A cameo role as a singing preacher in the cult 1980 film The Blues Brothers brought his music to another generation.

Brown was still strutting in his sixties
His song Living in America, a paean to the American Dream, was chosen as the theme music to Rocky IV and James Brown was among the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But James Brown's capacity for self-destruction was a constant danger. In 1988 an incident with a shotgun led to a high-speed police chase and he spent two-and-a-half years in jail.

His release coincided with a huge upswell in rap and hip-hop music, both of which borrowed freely from Brown's work. His role as a pivotal musical innovator was recognised as never before.

Even with his faults, James Brown was an important role model to a whole generation of African Americans.

Triumphing over poverty and racism, his outlook is best summed up by the title of one of his greatest hits - Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud.
Original Post
The world is a lot less funkier now. BET better have a special or something related to him tonight. He's a legend, and will be sorely missed.

Very sad indeed, however, the brother lived and so this musxt be celebrated..His life gave spice, and soulful nutrients to the lives of so many us...

Be at peace James Brown, may Allah be pleased with you...

Whirling Moat
You can easily make the case that James Brown was the most influential music artist of the past 35-40 years. Soul, R&B, disco, funk, hip-hop, rock...James not only inspired people to make music, but there are countless artists who have straight-up copied James in one way or another. "Sex Machine" is the "Johnny B. Goode" of funk; James Brown (along with Sly Stone) invented the genre. He dared to ignore the rules of songwriting. Instead of lyrics/melody/chords/root notes of chords for bass, James went with rhythm first. Whatever sounded right to him, he did it. As a result, every part of the music became tight and percussion-like. The drums, bass, rhythm guitar, organ, horns...even James' vocals came in quick, staccato bursts. If you listen to his funky '70s hits, you are struck by the fact that, in spite of James Brown's superstar status, he chose to keep the production as tight and lean as his arrangements. There's no oversaturated overproduction to be heard; just honest vocal power and musicianship. James sounds like he's in the same room with you. That is the genius of James Brown. Very few singer/songwriters can truly lay claim to having changed music in a huge, lasting way. James Brown is one of them. I could never thank him enough for his immense influence on my music.

P.S. I hate it when James Brown retrospectives make it sound like that James' body of work consists solely of a few hits like "Please, Please, Please", "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Living In America." It's classics like "I Got The Feelin'", "Say It Loud (I'm Black And I'm Proud)", "Sex Machine", "Super Bad", "Soul Power", "Payback", "Hot Pants", "Make It Funky", "Get On The Good Foot", "My Thang", and "Funky President" that laid down the foundation for all that followed, and proved that James Brown's influence is second to none.

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