RIP: James Brown (1933 – 2006)

James Brown died early this morning.

Passing of a legend. Beyond his own music, James Brown’s work has influenced or initiated a good sized chunk of modern popular music. Many hip hop or rap anthems contain samples of Brown’s work (or works derived from his work), copy his rhythms, or are created by descendants from his bands.

Brown was one of the hardest working men in show business. He would actually lose several pounds of weight during a performance. And a perfectionist, too. Like Zappa and Waters, Brown demanded absolute perfection from his band, which led to several line up changes throughout the years.

Unlike Zappa and Waters, James Brown was composing funk anthems. Funk is notorious for its loose and sloppy feel, but Brown demanded an absolutely perfectly sloppy performances. This led to a number of lineup changes and some of those that spun out of Brown’s band went on to form incredibly influential musical power houses.

Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker– all core members of Parliament / Funkadelic– came out of James Brown’s band. And you could definitely hear it in their music.

Instead of reading about the man, go listen to his music. My favorite James Brown comes from the when the JBs included the P-Funk folks. Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang is an awesome set of some in your face classic brown funk. James Brown Christmas or Funky Christmas are both excellent collections of tunes, if you want to put some funk in your Christmas.

The mothership has landed to take brother James away. No doubt he entered with his head held high and his foot hitting the deck on the ONE.

I caught some of the Atlanta JB celebration today on CNN. Wow! Talk about all star funktacular! Amazing send-off. I hope that a full length recording becomes available.



One Response to “RIP: James Brown (1933 – 2006)”

  1. Amie says:

    I’m not surprised about the connection to Parliament, which we’ve been listening to ever since Abbey fell in love with the new Honda Oddyssey commercial. Heaven just got a little funkier.

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