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James Brown


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Barnwell, SC, USA (1955 – 2006)

James Brown (b. James Joseph Brown, 3 May 1933, in Barnwell, SC, USA – d. 25 Dec 2006), is recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century music. He was a seminal force in the evolution of and into and . He has also left his mark on numerous other musical genres, including , , , , and music, and music.

Joining Bobby Byrd’s vocal group The Famous Flames, in 1955, Brown’s early mid-50s recordings were fairly straightforward gospel-inspired R&B compositions, heavily influenced by contemporaries, including: Ray Charles and Little Richard, who was particularly significant in Brown’s development as a musician and showman.

Brown followed his successful Live At the Apollo (1963), with a string of singles that - along with the work of Allen Toussaint, in New Orleans - essentially defined the foundation of music. During the mid-1960s, two of Brown’s signature tunes Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good) (both from 1965), were his first Top 10 pop hits, as well as major #1 R&B hits - each remaining the top-selling singles, in black venues, for over a month. As the 1960s neared their end, Brown continued to refine the new funk idiom. His 1967 #1 R&B hit, Cold Sweat - sometimes cited as the first true funk song - was the first of his recordings to contain a and harmony reduced to a single chord change.


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