Godfather of soul, R&B, disco, rap, hip-hop

Harry Weber

Harry Weber

James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul", said from his hospital bed that he was looking forward to performing on New Year's Eve, even though he was ill with pneumonia.

His heart gave in a few hours later, on Christmas morning.

The pompadoured dynamo, whose classic singles include Papa's Got A Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good), will be buried in his home town of Augusta, Georgia, tomorrow.

The entertainer with the rough-edged voice and flashy footwork also had diabetes and prostate cancer that was in remission.

Three days before his death he had participated in his yearly toy giveaway in Augusta, and he was looking forward to his New Year's Eve show.

One of the major musical influences of the past 50 years, Brown was to rhythm and dance music what Bob Dylan was to lyrics.

From Mick Jagger to Michael Jackson, his rapid-footed dancing, hard-charging beats and heartfelt yet often unintelligible vocals changed the musical landscape.

He was one of the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

Brown won a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1992, and Grammys in 1965 for Papa's Got a Brand New Bag , for best R&B recording, and for Living In America in 1987, for best R&B vocal performance, male.

He even had a brief but memorable role on the big screen as a manic preacher in the 1980's movie The Blues Brothers.

Brown, who lived in Beech Island, South Carolina, had a turbulent personal life that included charges of abusing drugs and alcohol.

After a widely publicised, drug-fueled confrontation with police in 1988 that ended in an interstate car chase, Brown spent 15 months in a South Carolina prison.

Brown's stage act was as memorable, and as imitated, as his records, with his twirls and his spins and his flowing cape, and his repeated faints to the floor at the end.

His Live at The Apollo in 1962 is widely considered one of the greatest concert records ever.

With his tight pants, eye make-up and outrageous hair, Brown set the stage for younger stars such as Jackson and Prince.

And the early rap generation overwhelmingly sampled his music and voice as they laid the foundation of hip-hop culture.

Born in poverty in Barnwell, South Carolina, in 1933, Brown was abandoned as a four- year-old to the care of relatives and friends. He grew up on the streets of Augusta, Georgia.

Brown is survived by his fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie, and at least four children. - Sapa-AP