James Brown – Godfather of Soul
James Brown, the Godfather of Soul had a career that lasted more than 50 years. One of his most memorable offerings was his rendition of The Old Landmark, released in 1980 and included in the iconic movie The Blues Brothers in 1995.
The original rendition of The Old Landmark was backed by the James Cleveland Choir. In The Blues Brothers movie, Brown played the Reverend Cleophus James at the Triple Rock Baptist Church and he was again backed by this same choir. The Old Landmark was sung as a fast-paced musical sermon, showing his early roots in Gospel Music.
James Brown was heavily influenced by Gospel music
James Brown’s early career was founded in Gospel music, and he started his career as a Gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia. He moved into R&B by joining the vocal group Starlighters where he was the lead singer (later becoming the Famous Flames). It wasn’t until the late 50s that this group came to the fore with the hits Please, Please, Please and Try Me.
With his backing band, known as the James Brown Band, Brown’s Gospel influences peaked in the late 60s. It was at this time that Brown became influenced by African American music, developing what is now called Funk music – a mix of soul, jazz and R&B. Renaming his band the JBs, Brown remained more Funk than Gospel until his death in 2006.
He had 17 No.1 singles in the Billboard R&B charts and holds the record for the highest number of singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (songs that did not reach No.1). He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is ranked No.1 in the Top 500 artists.
His last performance was in late October 2006 as part of the BBCs Electric Proms festival at The Roundhouse; his last TV appearance was his induction in the UK Hall of Fame in November 2006. He died on 25th December 2006.