James Brown, (James Joseph Brown, 1933-2006) is recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century music. He was a seminal force in the evolution of gospel and rhythm and blues into soul and funk. He has also left his mark on numerous other musical genres, including rock, jazz, reggae, disco, dance and electronic music, and hip-hop music. Joining Bobby Byrd's vocal group The Famous Flames in 1955, Brown's early recordings from the mid-50s, were fairly straightforward gospel-inspired R&B compositions, heavily influenced by the work of contemporary musicians such as Ray Charles and Little Richard.
Little Richard's relations with Brown were particularly significant in Brown's development as a musician and showman. Brown followed the success of his 1963 Live At The Apollo with a string of singles that, along with the work of Allen Toussaint in new orleans, essentially defined the foundation of funk music. During the mid-1960s, two of Brown's signature tunes Papa's Got A Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good), both from 1965, were his first Top 10 pop hits, as well as major #1 R&B hits, with each remaining the top-selling singles in black venues for over a month. As the 1960s decade neared its end, Brown continued to refine the new funk idiom.
Brown's 1967 #1 R&B hit, Cold Sweat, sometimes cited as the first true funk song, was the first of his recordings to contain a drum break and the first that featured a harmony that was reduced to a single chord change. Brown's recordings influenced musicians across the industry, most notably Sly and his Family Stone, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Booker T. & The M.G.'s and soul shouters like Edwin Starr, Temptations, David Ruffin, and Dennis Edwards. A then-prepubescent Michael Jackson took Brown's shouts and dancing into the pop mainstream as the lead singer of motown's The Jackson 5.Make James Brown Playlist