Monday, December 25, 2006

Living In America No Longer

First and foremost I want to wish a Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays to all y'all today. I was planning on whipping up a shorter Xmas related post today but in the wake of the sad news that broke early this morning, I think I'll keep it short and sweet as I feel is appropriate in light of our loss today.

It is my sad duty to report that the incomparable Godfather of Soul, James Brown, has died this morning after being hospitalized in Atlanta, GA for pneumonia over the weekend. Word came out yesterday that the ailing singer had contracted a bout of pneumonia and was hospitalized yesterday and very sadly passed on today -- he was 73:

James Brown, the legendary R&B belter, a singer and songwriter who created a foundation for funk and provided the roots of rap, a man of many nicknames but a talent that can only be described as one of a kind, is dead. Brown died early Monday at Atlanta's Emory Crawford Long Hospital of congestive heart failure, his agent said. He was 73. Brown was in Atlanta for a dental appointment when he fell ill and was admitted to the hospital over the weekend for treatment of "severe pneumonia," said his agent, Frank Copsidas. "It appears what happened is that he did die of a heart attack as a result of his pneumonia," Copsidas told CNN Radio. [Source, Source]

James Brown's influence on music is unmistakable. This legendary singer has had an impact on popular music that is absolutely undeniable: 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 ... He won a Grammy award for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (best R&B recording) and for "Living In America" in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male.) He was one of the initial artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers. And then, just last month on November 14th, James Brown was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. At that ceremony he even performed on stage with the likes of Joss Stone among others and was just as lively, just as funky as he ever was ...

The hardest working man in show business truly lived life up until the very end: Three days before his death, he joined volunteers at his annual toy giveaway in Augusta, and he planned to perform on New Year's Eve at B.B. King Blues Club in New York. "He was dramatic to the end — dying on Christmas Day," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a friend of Brown's since 1955. "Almost a dramatic, poetic moment. He'll be all over the news all over the world today. He would have it no other way."

James Brown was truly the hardest working man in show business and his innovative style can be seen mirrored in the work of pretty much everyone who brings the funk these days. It is shocking and extremely sad to learn that he has died. The world has truly lost an irreplaceable legend.