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The EnterPAINment Industry: James Brown

Updated on January 11, 2019
Ryan Cornelius profile image

Ryan is a poet, article writer, screen writer, copywriter, and song writer.


Brown was born in South Carolina. His life beginnings started in a small, wooden shack. He was supposed to be named after his father Joseph Gardener Brown but there was some confusion on his birth certificate. One that made his last name his first. He spent his young life in extreme poverty. He and his 16-year-old mother and 22-year-old father lived in a town in Elko, South Carolina. By the time he was four or five he moved to Augusta, GA. The conditions were slightly upgraded. His family had help. Despite him being young, he was aware that his father was abusive to his mother. That caused the two to separate. His mom moved to New York City. That left little James all alone. He spent much of his time on his own. He did what he felt was needed to get by. That includes dropping out of school in only the 6th grade. During his rough childhood, during his rough childhood, he was singing in talent shows. One at Augusta’s Lennox theatre he won. While singing, he learned to dance as well. He also learned how to play the piano, harmonica and the guitar. From then on, he was convinced he wanted to be an entertainer. At 16, he was convicted of robbery. He was sent to a juvenile center. There, he formed a gospel group. In the center, Brown was nicknamed a guy called Music box. Before Brown was release, he promised the world that he changed and was going to sing Gospel music. He stood on his word. He was paroled in 1952. He joined the Ever-Ready Gospel singers.

The superstar

Shortly after, he shifted. He shifted to and R&B group called the Avons. Later, the name was changed to the FAMOUS FLAMES. Brown and the groups started singing at parties near college campuses in Georgia and South Carolina. They developed a reputation as the best live act around. They also caught the attention of big music stars in the industry. Later, they recorded their first demo session. They made their first demo entitled Please, Please, Please. They later signed with Kings Records in Cincinnati, Ohio. There they re-recorded their song and it became their number one hit. Sadly, nothing else they did have the same success. The original group called it quits but not Brown. Brown put together a new group and singled himself out as a more solo act. He called the group James Brown and the Famous Flames. By October 1958 they released a hit ballad. A year later, they were at the world-famous Apollo theatre. Brown begin to see the success he knew he would have. Under Dade records, the song (Do the) Mashed Potatoes was released. Brown emerged faster than expected.


James Brown was known for his passionate moves. His worth ethics in the industry was amazing but he was also known for his drug use. He had a policy for no one in his band to do it, but he did it. In the 1980’s he was known for it. He started having violent outbursts. Normally, that is the result often seen from users of PCP. His behavior was visible to audiences worldwide when he was released for jail in 1988. Just as well as he was a drug user Brown also was convicted of theft. That started before he became who he was in the industry. He was arrested in 1978 for not turning in records from one of the radio stations after the station was forced to file bankruptcy. In 1991, he was released on parole after spending two years in jail. The release in 1988 was the result of a domestic violence dispute that he had with his wife. His wife, Adrianna Rodriguez, had him arrested multiple times for it. He was also accused of rape, but that accusation was proven to be false. His legacy on the stage was superb but it was not off it.

Entertained until the End

Despite his off the stage issues, he was a great entertainer. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of fame in 1983. Three years later he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. In 1992, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award. He received the same award at the 4th Annual Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer awards in 1993. In that same yr., a bridge was named in his honor. The JAMES BROWN SOUL CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE BRIDGE. In 1997, he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. It took a while but his group the famous flames were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame alongside him. They should’ve been inducted the same year he was. The awards and honors continued. He has inspired great artists during and after his career. In December 2006, he became very ill. Two days later Christmas day, the world lost one of the best, hardest working men in show business at 73 years old.


Brown passed away from heart failure. He had pneumonia prior to that. Before he died he told a close friend that he was leaving. Brown spent most of his career all around the world. He was a hard worker. In this case, he may have worked too hard. His manager that was at his bedside before he died said Brown had a history of performing while sick. He never complained about it. The extensive drug use did not help his body either. Despite his life ending, the awards and honors continued. Brown has a statue in Augusta, GA. His philanthropy and civic activities in the city was amazing. Along with the statue, an entire boulevard was named after Brown. His iconic slogan I FEEL GOOD was used as the city’s slogan. They changed it to WE FEEL GOOD. Before Brown died he was showered with glory. At his public memorial service, he was given an honorary doctorate. In February 2007, his famous cape he often carried with him on the road was draped over a microphone at the 49th annual Grammy awards. James Brown deserved every honor that he was given. If the industry allowed him to rest more, he will be alive to see how much he meant to the music industry.

Do you think death was the only way for James Brown to rest his body?

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© 2019 Ryan Jarvis Cornelius


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