James Joe Brown Jr. aka “The Godfather of Soul,” “Mr. Dynamite,” “Soul Brother Number One” and “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” is by far the most influential and popular Funk/Soul artist in America. He is known as the creator of Funk music. He is also responsible for the development of many different musical genres. He was born in Barnwell, South Carolina and raised by 2 aunts and a brother in Augusta, Georgia. As a child, James sang at talent shows, and performed buck dances for a little extra change. He learned how to play the harmonica, drums, guitar, and piano. As a teen he decided to focus more on music in his teens after he met Bobby Byrd, who later became a member in his band.
James Brown joined Bobby Byrd’s Gospel/R&B group (The Avon’s) in the 1950’s which eventually changed to The Flames. They went on tours and signed to a record deal to Federal Records. The hit song “Please Please Please” became their first hit record in 1956. Inspired by Little Richard, (a popular artist at the time) James used the words of Little Richard to title this song.
For the next two years, Brown failed to make another hit until he found his distinct style and added it to his music. He started to use more complex Latin and jazz influenced rhythms in his songs which got hit noticed. He came up with the hits “I’ll Go Crazy”, and “Night Train” as well as many others. He was a mere excitement to the crowd after performing Live after the Apollo. For about five years, Brown had to put his music and records down due to record deal issues.
In these times (mid 60’s) James Brown was considered in his prime. He started a new era with his smash hits “Out of Sight” which had the sound of funk before it was called Funk. He used his gospel screams and high pitch chants as much as lyrics and this gave him his distinct sound. More hits from around this time were “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, “I Got You (I Feel Good)”. These songs were ranked high in the record charts and they are considered as some of James Brown’s greatest hits.