Please, Please, Please, James Brown, I Feel Good!
James Brown was the forefather of hip-hop, the founder of funk and soul, the ultimate in R&B. He was the "Elvis" to most blacks and R&B. There will be a movie about his life of despair and poverty, his prison time, his life in Augusta, Georgia from 1933-1952. Those were the years a "bad" life. That will be the first half, then, from 1955 onward, his life turns into fame and stardom. An amazing story.
James was born still born in 1933, until his aunt frantically did mouth to mouth to revive him. It did not get much better since he grew up in Augusta's ghetto where brutal racism and crime was a way of life. He was a kid who shined shoes on the street corner for nickels and dimes and later as a teen, boxed, where he did well enough to get into the press. His home, however, was a place he truly hated to return to because it was aunt's brothel called Honey's. Like many in such poverty, he used to crime to get out of it, at least he tried by stealing and burglary. It was in 1949, when his luck ran out while breaking into car to steal some suits he liked. This landed him jail for youth. Yet, it was there he first got into church gospels until being released in 1952. Once out, he joined or created a group called, The Flames, which Brown has said was really more "show" than talent. It was their early gigs for little money where Brown created his infamous amazing dance and footwork-now you know where Michael Jackson got it. When they were not performing, Brown operated a still to create moonshine to sell.
It was in a little joint at a one nighter that the up and rising star, Little Richard was performing, along with The Flames. Little Richard liked what he saw and told Brown to go talk with his manager. Richard's huge hit with teens was, Tutti Frutti. The next thing Brown found himself doing without the other members was impersonating Little Richard as requested by Richard's manager. Unlike Richard, Brown did not play piano but screamed just like him and he put on such a dazzling dance number with flips, the crowd loved him ( BTW, a 13 yr. old at this time in Liverpool, England, also loved Little Richard-Paul McCartney, who modeled his screaming rock voice after him. Listen to I'm Down, Long Tall Sally, Helter Skelter).
James Brown first hit, reached the Top 5 spot, in 1956, was still the legendary, Please, Please, Please. You have to see a video of him doing this song, a slow, begging, heart breaking, steady mantra. His voice produced despair, pain and agony of losing love. You cannot help but feel his pain. During his career, which lasted into the 80's, he had 94 songs that got into the Top 100.Like Elvis, Brown's stardom and fame took off and within several years had many Top 10 songs on the R& B charts, his most famous, even today are:
- I Got You (I Feel Good)
- It's a Man's World
- Papa's Gotta Brand New Bag
- Get Up Offa That Thing
- Sex Machine
- I feel Good
Brown's success had him buying radio stations in the late 60's, in the city where he had shined shoes for a dime as a kid. My, how life can change! Brown was no angel, he had been married three times, had five sons, scrapes with the law for domestic violence in the 90's, even a charge of rape, which was tossed out.
His final two days of life began at his dentist's office. He arrived late and looked bad. The dentist insisted he go to the hospital instead. Brown checked in and tests revealed he had a bad case of pneumonia on Dec. 23, 2006. Instead of improving, he got worse and died early Christmas morning. Brown's last words were, "I'm going away tonight". He then took three last breaths and died.