The "Godfather of Soul" James Brown has died today at the age of seventy three. He was admitted to hospital in Atlanta on Sunday suffering with pneumonia. His contribution to music is immeasurable and his influence on popular culture will continue to be felt long into the future. Having spent six decades in entertainment the singing star had 119 chart hit records, second only to Elvis Presley.
He had a tough childhood living in the deep south of America, having to pick cotton and shine shoes to support his family. By the age of sixteen he was convicted of armed robbery and served three years in a juvenile detention center. His musical career found its roots in Gospel music but his ideas were outside of the usual norm for popular artists of the time. Confronted with social hardships and a music business based on "popular conceptions" he often funded his own recordings. Believing in his own sound and sticking to his guns, he went on to transform Gospel into R&B, then Soul into Funk. These developments had profound effects, leading to new forms of music production and leaving a lasting legacy on what was to become the worlds biggest selling music genre, Hip Hop.
James Brown had also been a political activist with a strong social agenda, lobbying for poor Afro Americans and sponsoring food stamps. He believed in black capitalism and managed to move with the times by using his exceptional music catalog to remain at the forefront of developments in the music and movie industries. Along with his sound recordings he’ll be remembered for his distinctive vocal style, part sung – part spoken, and his energetic live stage performances. As the most sampled artist in recorded history he continues to be truly inspirational and influential.