James Brown, 1933 – 2006

Truly a great loss. In Rolling Stone:

Fifty years after recording his first hit song, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business has played his final encore. James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died of congestive heart failure early Christmas morning, after a brief bout with pneumonia in an Atlanta hospital. By his count, he was seventy-three years old.

One of the most influential performers of the 20th century, Brown had a hard-charging, hypnotically rhythmic signature sound that inspired peers and successors from doo-wop to hip-hop. Among his many chart successes – more than forty Top Forty hits and dozens more on the R&B charts — were the timeless classics “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and civil-rights anthems such as “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.” His best-known album, 1962’s Live at the Apollo, is often cited as the most exciting live album of all time. One of the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, Brown received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1992.

Brown, as some of his elaborate nicknames (“The Minister of the New New Super Heavy Funk”) imply, was best known for his indefatigable showmanship. His revue-style shows were designed to take his audience to ever-higher levels of delirium, and he was famous for “fainting” near the end of the evening, only to be revived by his band mates.