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Spotlight on the 1960s Recording Artist of the Month 

James Brown

Commonly referred to as the "Godfather of Soul" and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" 

 

James Brown was born May 3, 1933 in Barnwell, South Caroline in poverty and raised in Augusta, Georgia just 40 miles away.  He attended  Alto Reform School in Augusta.

In 1953 after serving four years in prison for robbery, James Brown joins the Gospel Starlighters, a vocal quartet led by Bobby Byrd. The group changes its focus from gospel to R&B and become the Famous Flames.

 

James Brown

In 1956 James Brown signs a recording contract with the King/Federal Label and record Please, Please, Please. The song reaches number 5 on the R&B charts

In 1957 after Little Richard gives up rock 'n roll for religion reasons, James Brown honors Little Richard's pending tour appearances and Little Richard's band becomes the Famous Flames.

October 1, 1958 James Brown's first #1 hit, Try Me, is released. It is the best-selling R&B single of 1958—and the first of 17 chart-topping R&B singles by Brown over the next two decades.

While Brown's early singles were major hits across the southern United States and became regular R&B Top Ten hits, he and the Flames were not nationally successful until his self-financed live show was captured on the LP Live at the Apollo in 1962, which was released without the consent of his label, King Records.

Brown followed this success with a string of singles that, along with the work of Allen Toussaint in New Orleans, essentially defined funk music. The 1964 single "Out of Sight" was a harbinger of the new James Brown sound, even more than Night Train had been. The song's arrangement was raw and unornamented, the horns and the drums took center stage in the mix, and Brown's vocals took on an even more intense, rhythmic feel. However, Brown violated his contract with King Records again by recording "Out of Sight" for Smash Records; the ensuing legal battle resulted in a one year ban on the release of his vocal recordings.

The mid-1960s was the period of Brown's greatest popular success. Two of his signature tunes, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)," both from 1965, were Brown's first Top 10 pop hits as well as major #1 R&B hits, with each remaining the top-selling singles in black venues for over a month. In 1966, Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" won the Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording (an award last given in 1968). His national profile was boosted further that year by appearances in the films Ski Party and the concert film The T.A.M.I. Show in which he upstaged The Rolling Stones. In his concert repertoire and on record, Brown mingled his innovative rhythmic essays with ballads such as "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" (1965), and even interwined them with Broadway show tunes.

Brown continued to develop the new funk idiom. "Cold Sweat" (1967), a song with only one chord change, was considered a departure when compared even to Brown's other recent innovations. Critics have since come to see this shift as a high-water mark in the dance music of the 1960s; "Cold Sweat" was sometimes called the first "true" funk recording.

Brown often made creative adjustments to his songs for greater appeal. He sped up the release

 

d version of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" to make the song even more intense and commercial. He also spun off new compositions from the grooves of earlier ones by continual revision of their arrangements. For example, the hit "There Was a Time" emerged out of the chord progression and rhythm arrangements of the 1967 song Let Your self Go 

Many pages of dialogue and biography has been and will be written about this legend. Only the surface of the 50s and 60s era are covered here. His recording and performing spanned over 5 decades.  James Brown died  of congestive heart failure due to complications with pneumonia on Dec 25, 2006.

James Brown is #2 of all time with hit records behind Elvis Presley. He is number 1 in R&B  hits with
over 116 charted hits during his career :
James Brown has 96 top 100 hits, Aretha Franklin 86
James Brown has 116 R&B hits, Aretha Franklin 90+

Some of his best known recordings of the Baby Boomer Generation were:

I Got You ( I Feel Good)

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

Try Me

Night Train

Cold Sweat

Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)

Please, Please, Please

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

 

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