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    News

    R&B Singer/Pioneer James Brown Dies

    Includes video link; updated with statement by Gov. Schwarzenegger


    (Dec. 25, 2006 with updated text) -- R&B singer/pioneer James Brown -- "the Godfather of Soul," "Mr. Dynamite" and "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business" -- died on Christmas morning in Atlanta. He was 73.

    Mr. Brown hit the R&B charts in 1956 with "Please, Please, Please" and later "Try Me." In 1962, he captured his own live performance in Harlem and formed his own record company to release it as an album ("James Brown: Live at the Apollo"). It made the national charts, unheard of for an R&B album at the time.

    Locals recall "James Brown and the Famous Flames" appearing at multiple Long Beach-L.A. area venues...including a memorable October 1964 appearance at the legendary "TAMI" [Teenage Music Int'l] concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. [A must-see on hard-to-find video; included James Brown, the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Chuck Berry, the Miracles, the Supremes, the Rolling Stones, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas...and Leslie Gore among others. Brown's performance was electrifying.]

    James Brown's music was edgier than his contemporaries. In the mid-60s, his "I Feel Good" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" blasted from R&B and mainstream AM radio speakers...followed by a lush, ballad-styled "It's Man's World."

    In the late 60s, his "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" became an ethnic anthem, followed by "The Payback."

    For a time. Mr. Brown also owned his own chain of radio stations [keeping the audio on his Washington, D.C.-Baltimore R&B outlet (WOOK, "OK 100") so compressed that it was the loudest sounding FM signal on the dial in the late 70s].

    He was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy Awards in 1992.

    [update] In statement released by his office, CA Governor Arnold Schwarznegger said:

    Maria and I send our prayers and thoughts to the family of James Brown today. Mr. Brown was an entertainment icon who for decades energized and entertained people around the world with his electrifying music. The Godfather of Soul and the Hardest Working Man in Show Business were just two of his nicknames and they certainly fit. He was also one of the most innovative and creative artists in the history of popular music and he's credited with helping to invent soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop. His trailblazing career and unique sense of style were a source of great pride and inspiration to many and his music and cultural contributions will live on far into the future. Our condolences are with his loved ones as they mourn the loss of such an extraordinary individual.

    Mr. Brown, who had run-ins with the law in his youth, was sentenced in the late 1980s to a six-year prison term on assault, drug possession and vehicular charges (high speed chase from GA to SC to GA); he was paroled in February 1991 and pardoned by SC in 2003.

    During the 1990s, he entered rehab for addiction to a painkiller said to stem from a back injury. In later years, he also battled prostate cancer.

    James Brown continued to perform and was scheduled to appear in NYC on New Years Eve...and in February 2007 had shows booked in San Francisco and Anaheim with appearances set in Europe a few months later.

    Video: Reuters: Video (James Brown Dies)

    Further coverage (updated from original a.m. Reuters posting): Reuters: James Brown Dies.


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