James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006)
James Brown, commonly referred to as "The Godfather of Soul" and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business", was an American entertainer recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music. He was renowned for his shouting vocals, feverish dancing and unique rhythmic style. He was born in Barnwell, South Carolina. But, some sources list his year of birth as 1928 and his birthplace as Pulaski, Tennessee.
As a prolific singer, songwriter, bandleader, and record producer, Brown was a pivotal force in the evolution of gospel and rhythm and blues into soul and funk. He left his mark on numerous other musical genres, including rock, jazz, disco, dance and electronic music, reggae and hip hop. Brown's music also left its mark on the rhythms of African popular music, such as afrobeat, jùjú and mbalax, and provided a template for go-go music. As a singer, dancer and bandleader, he has influenced popular musicians since the 1960s. Among other things, his quick ascent to icon status in the musical community can be attributed to his rejection of industry stereotypes.
Brown began his professional music career in 1953 and skyrocketed to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his thrilling live performances and string of smash hits. In spite of various personal problems and setbacks, he continued to score hits in every decade through to the 1980s. In addition to his acclaim in music, Brown was a presence in American political affairs during the 1960s and 1970s, noted especially for his activism on behalf of African Americans and the poor. During the early 1980s, Brown's music helped to shape the rhythms of early hip hop music, with many groups looping or sampling his funk grooves and turning them into what became hip hop "classics" and the foundations of this music genre.
James Brown was recognized by a plethora of (mostly self-bestowed) titles, including Soul Brother Number One, Mr. Dynamite, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Minister of The New New Super Heavy Funk, Mr. Please Please Please, The Boss, and the best-known, the Godfather of Soul.
Also, Soul Brother Number One was a symbol of self-motivation and achievement in spite of racism for Black Americans.
James Brown's musical innovations, developed in tandem with the many skilled musicians who passed through his bands (the Flames, the James Brown Band, the JB's), used the basic building blocks of earlier African-American music; his career is a case study in change and self-determination. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, his irresistible sound spawned countless imitators. By the mid- '70s, several of his key band members (Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker), had left his employ and joined forces with George Clinton, whose so-called P-Funk groups (Funkadelic, Parliament, Parlet, the Brides of Funkenstein) were a looser, wilder and more self-consciously counterculture version of Brown's bands. With the advent of hip hop in the late '70s, James Brown's grooves became the foundation for rap music and breakdancing, as DJs such as Grandmaster Flash looped and extended the drum breaks from earlier JB favorites like 'Give It Up Or Turn It A Loose.' In the late 1980s, James Brown's music experienced a renaissance with the rise of sampling by Hip Hop producers. Snippets of his 800-some songs were recycled into hundreds of rap songs and continue to appear in electronic music to this day.