On December 25, 2006 America lost a part of its soul. James Brown, who danced into the 1950’s spotlight, shuffled off this mortal coil due to heart failure, explained his agent. Brown, more commonly known as the “Godfather of Soul,” was quoted as saying “I’m going away tonight” not long before he passed away. He lived an extraordinary life, and it’s clear that on the eve of his passing, he felt good about his life, as he always knew he would.
The Godfather loved music, he loved to dance and he loved life in general. He also loved the ladies, as he was married four times and had six children.
James Brown was more than just a singer. His stage presence was electrifying. He poured passion and emotion into his performances. He created an atmosphere that left all the seats vacant. He surpassed music genres by creating his own unique style, which blended, but was not limited to, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, funk, and rock and roll. In 1986 Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He was also more than just a musician. He played small roles in many movies including Rocky IV and even helped Jake Blues see the light in the movie Blues Brothers as Reverend Cleophus James. He appeared on Saturday Night Live several times and was even parodied by Eddie Murphy on SNL in Murphy’s James Brown Hot Tub Party sketch.
Not so commonly known, was James Brown’s role in the BMW Films movie Beat The Devil, where James Brown plays himself. However, in the movie Browns success has come because he has sold his soul to the devil (Gary Oldman.) The transporter, and BMW driver (Clive Owen,) then must race the devil to win Browns soul back.
James Brown also was the winner of two Life Time Achievement Awards, one during the 34th annual Grammy Awards and the second a year later at the 4th annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards. Brown had 52 top ten singles on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Billboard Top R&B Singles charts.
James Brown left us with some very important and, as always, passionate words of wisdom from his role in the 1980’s movie Blues Brothers, “When I woke up this morning, I heard a disturbing sound. I said, when I woke up this morning I heard a disturbing sound! What I’ve heard was the jingle jangle of a thousand lost souls. I’m talking about the souls of mortal men and women departed from this life… …Those lost anguished souls roaming unseen on the earth seeking the divine light; they’ll not find because it’s too late; too late! Too late, for they’ll never see again the light they once chose not to follow.” Reverend Cleophus James (James Brown) then addresses the congregation, “don’t be lost when the time comes, for the day of the lord cometh, as a thief in the night, AAAAAAmen! Can I get an Amen?”
Amen James Brown, Amen. He was “loud, black and proud.” And now he will be forever missed. Don McLean once wondered if music could “save your mortal soul.” Well, the soul of blues music is forever preserved in Browns recordings, just as Browns musical influence will live on forever in the records of time. The Godfather can’t die in our soul, for every time one of his songs comes on the radio, it’s as if “Papa’s got a brand new bag.”
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