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A Celebration of Life: James Brown Turns 80 Today

Thomas Mulgrew

by Thomas Mulgrew

Published May 03, 2013

godfather-of-soul

Seven years ago, the world lost the greatest entertainer in the history of music, the hardest working man in show business, the godfather of soul. Really, no title will suffice because James Brown is a man that is beyond description. It's almost unfathomable to think of the impact not only his music had, but what the man meant to all forms of music: rap, soul, funk and jazz. In many ways, he represented the living embodiment of this musical intersection and foreshadowed the blending of those different forms into what we hear today.

He would have turned 80 today and would no doubt still put on a better show than 99.9% of touring acts out today. He was truly a machine, an unstoppable force of musical genius who still constitutes the ultimate yardstick to which any singer must measure against if they're serious about their craft. Just listen to his Live At The Apollo album to understand what it means to have a crowd in the palm of your hand.

To say that James Brown was emulated by ALL subsequent R&B acts would be an understatement. Much like Charlie Parker's impact on jazz, Brown's style become the prototype for all performers that followed him. Just ask Michael Jackson or Prince. Ask any hip-hop producer where the game would be without "Funky Drummer". Ask any DJ the quickest way to get a stale dance floor going.

In celebration of his life, Zumic has posted below some of our favorite Brown tracks and concert footage. Plus, the amazing interview he gave during his, let's just say "cocaine friendly", 1980's phase. Enjoy.

RIP James Brown

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