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James Brown

Atlanta, GA

Est. 1954

Fans and admirers refer to him, commonly and without hyperbole, as "the Godfather of Soul," "Soul Brother Number One" and "the hardest working man in show business." Michel Jackson cited him as "my greatest inspiration." And the critic Robert Christgau, writing in Rolling Stone, called him "the greatest musician of the rock era, no contest."

With some 800 songs in his repertoire, James Brown has influenced contemporary artists from virtually every popular music genre — rock, soul, jazz, R&B. His polyrhythmic funk vamps virtually reshaped dance music, and his impact on hip-hop, in particular, was huge; in the music's early years, Brown was by far the most sampled artist. Though he would be dogged by legal troubles and controversy in later life, he was a principled artist, adamant refusing to conform to anyone's vision. He was also an inimitable showman, and the only thing more fun than listening to James Brown was seeing him live.

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