James Brown Biography
James Brown (born James Joseph Brown, Jr. on May 3, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina) is an African American entertainer who is recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century music. As a prolific singer, songwriter, bandleader and record producer, Brown was a seminal force in the evolution of gospel and rhythm and blues into soul and funk. He has also left his mark on numerous other musical genres, including rock, jazz, reggae, disco, dance and electronic music, and, most famously, hip-hop music.
Brown began his professional music career in 1953, and skyrocketed to fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his thrilling live performances and a string of smash hits. In spite of various personal problems and setbacks, he continued to score hits in every decade through the 1980s. In the 1960s and 1970s Brown was a presence in American political affairs, noted especially for his activism on behalf of African Americans and the poor.
Brown is recognized by a plethora of (mostly self-bestowed) titles, including Soul Brother Number One, Mr. Dynamite, the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business, Minister of The New New Super Heavy Funk, Mr. Please Please Please, The Boss, and the best-known, the Godfather of Soul. He is renowned for his shouting vocals, feverish dancing and unique rhythmic style.
Brown has been married four times. He and his current wife Tommie Raye Hynie, were married in 2002, but the marriage was annulled. They later remarried in 2004 and have one child together. Brown also has two children by his first wife, Velma Warren, and three more by his second, Deidre Jenkins. Adrienne Rodriegues, Brown's wife through most of the 1980s and 1990s, had him arrested four times on charges of assault, and also had problems with drug abuse.
James Brown lives in a riverfront home in Beech Island, South Carolina, directly across the Savannah River from Augusta. On November 11, 1993, Augusta mayor Charles DeVaney held a ceremony during which Augusta's 9th Street was renamed "James Brown Boulevard" in the entertainer's honor. On May 6, 2005, as a seventy-second birthday present for James Brown, the city of Augusta unveiled a seven-foot bronze statue of Brown. The statue was to have been dedicated a year earlier, but the ceremony was put on hold because of a domestic abuse charge Brown was facing at the time. He later forfeited bond on the domestic abuse charge.
On August 22, 2006, the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted to rename the city civic center the James Brown Arena.
For a full listing of albums and singles, see James Brown discography.