Popularizing pioneering Funk and R&B styles in the 1960’s and 1970’s, ‘The Godfather of Soul’ James Brown is one of the most celebrated and innovative musicians in the history of 20th century music. With a career that lasted over six decades, James Brown truly is the father of Funk.
A child of the Great Depression, Brown was born in Barnswell, South Carolina in 1933. A troubled childhood, Brown left school in the seventh grade and was convicted of armed robbery at the age of 16, spending three years in a community detention home. An aspiring baseball pitcher, he was forced to abandon the sport following a leg injury. However, after a chance encounter with the soul singer Bobby Byrd while serving in a prison facility, he became a member of the Gospel-R&B band The Famous Flames.
Touring the clubs and bars around Georgia, their sound was heavily influenced by the musical styling of Ray Charles and Little Richard. Brown’s dynamism, and mesmeric, herky-jerky dancing style soon meant he took center stage as a front man, and he released his first R&B hit with the group in 1956 with his now signature song “Please, Please, Please,” selling over a million copies. Further hits followed, with The Famous Flames acting as Brown’s backing troupe until the group disbanded in 1968, where he released some of his most seminal, celebrated work. His recording Live At The Apollo (1963) was an unprecedented success, spending 66 weeks at the top of the Billboard Pop Charts, and becoming the first LP to sell over a million copies.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
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3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
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1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
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A dynamic and electric stage presence, Brown had quickly broken away from tradition in the late 1960s and early 70s to create a new form of ‘dance’ music. He is credited with developing the funk sound, moving away from conventional soul and R&B styles. Brown’s radical musical innovation lies in his fast and rough singing delivery combined with complex polyrhythmic rhythms, bass grooves, and a percussive thrust from ferocious drumming. A call and response vocal style, punctuated with yelps and screams that captured the ecstatic delivery of gospel; this was a revolution in sound that left a lasting musical imprint on Black music.
Breaking down longstanding racial and musical barriers, Brown was well known for his social activism, and following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., he released the civil-rights funk anthem, “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” in 1968, which became a call-to-arms of the Black Power Movement. Brown went on to form the James Brown Backing Group (The J.B’s) in the early 1970s which included the revered funk bassist Bootsy Collins.
His music has influenced a variety of genres, with Brown’s funk revolution having a lasting impact on the development of the burgeoning hip hop culture in the 1980s. Many producers sampled and looped extended drum breaks from Brown’s songs to form a sinuous, muscular percussive groove.
Unfortunately, Brown’s final decade was marred by dalliances with the law, along with allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, and he died in 2006 from pneumonia. Influencing generations to come, his musical legacy remains undiminished, and he has left one of the most historically important, musically potent canons of popular music. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who was a friend of Brown’s, summarized his musical legacy best:
James Brown changed world culture and literally changed music as we know it for all times…. What Bach brought to one musical era, Brown brought to another.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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