Brown, Jr., who was born James Joseph Brown, has a net worth of $100 million. Brown was an American recording artist and musician known as “The Godfather of Soul.” Brown’s net worth was accumulated throughout his six-decade career as a recording artist and musician.
James began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia, before joining the Avons, an R&B vocal group that ultimately evolved into The Famous Flames, where he was the lead singer. Brown’s ballads “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me” catapulted him to popularity in the late 1960s.
His live album Live at the Apollo peaked in the 1960s, with classics like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” With recordings like “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “The Payback,” Brown solidified the funk sound in the 1970s after forming The J.B.’s. Brown died on December 25, 2006, at the age of 73, following congestive heart failure caused by pneumonia complications.
James Brown’s Early Age
James Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, on May 3, 1933. Susie, his 16-year-old mother, gave birth to him in a shack made of wood. Brown grew up in the impoverished town of Elko, South Carolina, with his parents. When James was five years old, they moved to Augusta, Georgia, first to one of his aunt’s brothels and then to a house shared with another aunt.
After a tumultuous and abusive marriage with his father Joseph, Brown’s mother abandoned the family and fled to New York without James. Brown stayed in school until sixth grade, spending lengthy periods alone and working on the streets to make ends meet. Brown began doing buck dances and singing in talent shows to entertain troops at Camp Gordon at the onset of World War II.
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During this time, he learned to play the piano, harmonica, and guitar. Brown was convicted of robbery at the age of 16 and sentenced to a juvenile correctional camp. He established a gospel quartet with four of his cellmates there. In June 1952, he was released from prison and joined the Ever-Ready Gospel Singers, a gospel group.
James Brown’s Professional Life
His lengthy career began in earnest as a member of The Gospel Starlighters, a gospel ensemble. The group later changed their name to The Flames and played several southern locations with Brown in tow. R&B performers like Little Richard and Ray Charles had a significant impact on the early recordings recorded during this period. In March 1956, The Flames recorded their first R&B hit, “Please Please Please,” which went on to sell one million copies.
James Brown eventually became a solo performer from these early days, yet his music continued to evolve. In October 1958, Brown released “Try Me,” the first of seventeen R&B songs to top the charts. 1962 saw the release of Brown’s ballads “Lost Someone” and “Baby You’re Right,” as well as a cover of “Night Train.” In October of that year, Brown funded a live recording of an Apollo performance and persuaded Syd Nathan to release the CD.
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The next summer, “Live at the Apollo” was released and became an instant hit, eventually reaching No. 2 on the Top LPs chart and remaining on the charts for 14 months. Brown founded his own record company, Try Me Records, in 1963. Brown recorded “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” in 1965, which remains one of his most popular songs to date, and won his first Grammy Award that year.
Later that same year, he released “I Got You,” which became his second consecutive No. 1 hit. It was followed by the ballad “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” which became his third top 10 Pop success and another No. 1 R&B hit. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Brown successfully established himself on the funk scene.
From 1970 through 1975, Brown gained the moniker The Godfather of Soul. He incorporated elements of funk and traditional African music into his work, in addition to gospel and rhythm and blues.
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James Brown responded to shifting musical trends in the 1970s by dabbling with disco, but the majority of his efforts failed to equal the success of his earlier work, which is overwhelmingly more popular than disco is now.
In 1974, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” became his last single to reach No. 1 on the R&B charts and his final Top 40 mainstream record of the 1970s.
James Brown’s fame and sales decreased during the majority of the decade of the 1980s. When he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and released the modestly successful album “Gravity” in 1986, which included his final Top 10 pop song, “Living in America,” he made a remarkable comeback. This was his first Top 40 single since 1974, and his first Top 10 since 1968.
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The song was notably used on the film and soundtrack of “Rocky IV.” Brown sang the song at the final fight of Apollo Creed. James Brown co-wrote his autobiography, “James Brown: The Godfather of Soul,” with Bruce Tucker in 1986. “Living in America” earned Brown the 1987 Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
James Brown recorded 63 studio albums, 15 live albums, and 49 compilation albums during his extensive career. Live at the Apollo was named #25 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 best albums of all time in 2003, and he also achieved success with the albums In the Jungle Groove and Star Time.
Other popular hits by Brown include “Say It Loud – I’m Black and Proud” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.” Brown has also appeared in numerous films and television series.
James Brown’s Personal Life
Brown married four times, the first time in 1953 to Velma Warren. They married in 1969 and have three sons together. Deidre Jenkins was his second wife, whom he married from 1970 to 1981. Together, they had two kids. In this relationship, he was accused of domestic violence.
His third marriage to Adrienne Lois Rodriguez was tumultuous, with domestic abuse allegations making headlines. They divorced in 1988, but then reconciled and wedded until Rodriguez died in 1996.
Brown hired Tomi Rae Hynie as a backing singer for his band less than a year after her death, and she became his fourth wife in 2002. Brown claimed paternity for a total of nine children, nine of whom he admitted were his own.
Brown had insisted on a stringent drug and alcohol-free policy for all members of his band and entourage throughout most of his career. Brown was said to have started using narcotics during the mid-eighties.
His drug use led to violent outbursts from him, and he was arrested for domestic violence multiple times. Brown was charged with four felony offenses in January 1988, including driving, possession of PCP, and weapons possession.
James Brown’s Net Worth
At the time of his death in 2006, James Brown was an American artist with a net worth of $100 million. “The Godfather of Soul,” as James Brown was known, was a legendary figure in the music industry. He had the respect and affection of millions of followers all around the world when he died.
Brown has received numerous accolades over his career. A Grammy Award for lifetime accomplishment in 1992, an American Music Award of Merit in 1992, a Kennedy Center Honor in 2003, and a BET lifetime achievement award in 2003 are among them. Brown’s tracks have also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
James Brown’s Death
Brown was admitted to Emory Crawford Long Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 23, for observation and treatment of pneumonia. His condition swiftly deteriorated the next day, and he died on Christmas Day 2006, at the age of 73, from congestive heart failure with Pneumonia complications.
The Dispute Around James Brown’s Estate
According to The New York Times, more than a dozen lawsuits relating to Brown’s estate have been filed since his death. Nine of Brown’s children and grandchildren filed a lawsuit against the estate’s administrator and Brown’s widow, Tommie Rae Hynie, in one of the most recent lawsuits.
According to the children and grandchildren, Hynie negotiated “illegal back-room negotiations” with the estate regarding copyrights for Brown’s music. Steve Knopper of The New York Times writes:
There have also been several lawsuits filed by people who are contesting the will; one by a woman who believes she should have been appointed as a trustee of the estate; another by people who were trustees of the estate but were later removed; and yet another by James Brown II, 16, who is asserting his right to be considered a son and heir.
The court records themselves are mostly formal recitations of estate and copyright law, but the greater fight over Mr. Brown’s financial legacy has been a lot noisier, with charges of bigamy and corruption, racism, and the South Carolina legal and political establishment fraternity.
How Long Did They Keep James Brown’s Body?
The battle over Brown’s wealth even extended to the disposition of his remains. For more than two months, family members argued over Brown’s body, which was left in cold storage in a funeral parlor, still inside a gold casket.