Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown -
Dead At 73

Very sad. I wake up, here, early Christmas morning to this news:

James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured "Godfather of Soul," whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Longtime friend Charles Bobbit was by his side, he said.

Copsidas said the cause of death was uncertain. "We really don't know at this point what he died of," he said.

Pete Allman, a radio personality in Las Vegas who had been friends with Brown for 15 years, credited Brown with jump-starting his career and motivating him personally and professionally.
"He was a very positive person. There was no question he was the hardest working man in show business," Allman said. "I remember Mr. Brown as someone who always motivated me, got me reading the Bible."

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid- footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's "Fame," Prince's "Kiss," George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song" were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style.

If Brown's claim to the invention of soul can be challenged by fans of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, then his rights to the genres of rap, disco and funk are beyond question. He was to rhythm and dance music what Dylan was to lyrics: the unchallenged popular innovator.

Yep, and believe me, as a drummer, I can tell you that James Brown's tunes wrote the book on modern drumming. Every drummer (maybe exaggerating only a little bit) says his major influences are Clyde Stubblefield (James' drummer) and John Bonham (from Led Zeppelin). Put those two styles together and you've got modern rock drumming. Take the Bonham out and you've got Hip Hop and much of modern Jazz. He redefined music across the spectrum.

Really, James was the Elvis of Soul music. James was an unparalleled original (forgive me the adjective attatched to the definitive). He was the Sex Machine who stayed on the scene, and still will.

We'll miss you, James.