James Brown

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James Brown in concert (2005)

James Joseph Brown (May 3 1933December 25 2006), commonly referred to as "The Godfather of Soul" and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business", was an American entertainer recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music. He was renowned for his shouting vocals, feverish dancing and unique rhythmic style.


  • A colored is a very frightened-to-death Afro-American. A Negro is one that makes it in the system, and he wants to be white. A nigger, he's loud and boisterous, wants to be seen. Nobody likes a nigger. A black man has pride. He wants to build, he wants to make his race mean something. Wants to have a culture and art forms. And he's not prejudiced. I am a black American man. Now you go ahead and print it.
    • On personal identity (1982) — as quoted in "Funk's founding father," Rolling Stone Magazine, 2007-01-10
  • I'm the most sampled and stolen. What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine, too ... I got a song about that ... But I'm never gonna release it. Don't want a war with the rappers. If it wasn't good, they wouldn't steal it.
    • "Being James Brown," Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006-06-12
  • I would warn against anyone marrying a person with more than a ten-year age difference. It almost never works. It is difficult to find things to talk about, to use similar reference points, and to operate at the same speed of life. Another problem is that both sides usually don't want the same things at the same time.
    • Brown, J. & Eliot, M. (2005). I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul , pp. 247-248. New American Library: New York. ISBN 0-45121-393-9
  • This is an issue couples have to be straight on and agree on before they walk down that aisle; otherwise there is no way their marriage will survive.
    • On having children — as quoted in Brown, J. & Eliot, M. (2005). I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul, p. 248. New American Library: New York. ISBN 0-45121-393-9
  • To make it in life, you and your wife need to be in the same business. That has been my problem all along. My wives didn't know what I was doing. I would come back home from the road to a stranger. That's no good.
    • Brown, J. & Tucker, B. (2003). James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, p. 266. Thunder's Mouth Press: New York. ISBN 1-56025-388-6
  • Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got those two things he's got it all.
    • Brown, J. & Tucker, B.B. (1986). James Brown: The Godfather of Soul. Macmillan: New York. ISBN 0-02517-430-4
  • It doesn't matter how you travel it, it's the same road. It doesn't get any easier when you get bigger, it gets harder. And it will kill you if you let it."
    • Brown, J. & Tucker, B.B. (1986). James Brown: The Godfather of Soul. Macmillan: New York. ISBN 0-02517-430-4
  • Sometimes you struggle so hard to feed your family one way, you forget to feed them the other way, with spiritual nourishment. Everybody needs that.
    • Brown, J. & Tucker, B.B. (1986). James Brown: The Godfather of Soul. Macmillan: New York. ISBN 0-02517-430-4
  • When I'm on stage, I'm trying to do one thing: bring people joy. Just like church does. People don't go to church to find trouble, they go there to lose it.
    • Brown, J. & Tucker, B.B. (1986). James Brown: The Godfather of Soul. Macmillan: New York. ISBN 0-02517-430-4
  • Don't terrorize. Organize. Don't burn. Give kids a chance to learn ... The real answer to race problems in this country is education. Not burning and killing. Be ready. Be qualified. Own something. Be somebody. That's Black Power.
  • I'm going away tonight.
    • Last words as quoted by James Brown to Charles Bobbit, his longtime personal manager, just minutes before death on December 25 2006


  • Disco is James Brown, hip-hop is James Brown, rap is James Brown; you know what I'm saying?
  • I did the thing with bonds, which was about 30 million dollars, and didn't get none of the money on them.
  • I felt like the blacks had gotten lost in musical trends in some ways, and got away from what they were really looking for.
  • I got a wife who likes expensive things, so she takes all the cash.
  • I hope you live 200 years, and that I live 200 years minus one day, so I never know beautiful people like you passed away.
  • I named my new son James Joseph Brown II. I think he's going to be a lot better than I was.
  • I started Michael years ago. I saw him in Gary, Indiana, and we'd have him on the talent shows. He kind of emulated me, and did the best he could.
  • I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know.
  • I tell my wife, You got plenty of time left. Don't live so fast. Slow down and live, and don't try to catch up.
  • I thank God for the Apollo Theater. When I saw those people, that was the awards.
  • I think the best thing about being James Brown is looking at my little son. Hopefully I can make my son a role model to a lot of people.
  • I think what I came through is great, but my son can take it to another level, not having to fight racism. His mother's a Norwegian and I'm mixed up four or five times, so he can face the world.
  • I used to think like Moses. That knocked me down for a couple years and put me in prison. Then I start thinking like Job. Job waited and became the wealthiest and richest man ever 'cause he believed in God.
  • I want to say to the young people, Honor thy father and thy mother. Your days will be longer and more fruitful.
  • I want to say to you, Help yourself, so you can help someone else.
  • I was stillborn. The midwives laid me aside, thought I was really gone. I laid there about an hour, and they picked me back up and tried again, 'cause my body was still warm. The Good Lord brought me back.
  • I'm not going to be joining ZZ Top. You know they can't play my stuff. It's too complicated.
  • I've outdone anyone you can name -- Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Strauss. Irving Berlin, he wrote 1,001 tunes. I wrote 5,500.
  • My son don't have to say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud. He don't have to be called those crazy names.
  • Now, we own a publishing house that's way up in the billions of dollars and gets bigger and bigger. That's probably the only thing that makes me look like Bill Gates!
  • Retire for what? What would I do? I made my name as a person that is helping. I'm like Moses in the music business.
  • Sometimes I feel like I'm a preacher as well, 'cause I can really get into an audience.
  • The hardest thing about being James Brown is I have to live. I don't have no down time.
  • The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.
  • You can take care of yourself, and God helps those who help themselves.
  • You can't teach others if you are living the same way.

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