5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About James Brown

On May 3, 1933, James Brown was born in a small wooden-frame shack in Barnwell, South Carolina. To celebrate the anniversary of his birthday, here are 5 things you didn't know about the legendary entertainer best known as ¨The Godfather of Soul.¨


He Is The Most Sampled Artist Of All Time Having been sampled more than 5,200 times, James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time. Just the beat of “Funky Drummer” has been copied some 1,584 times by, among many others, Madonna, Britney Spears, George Michael, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Ice Tee, Jay-Z, and  Kanye West. 

Brown Fined Band Members Who Played a Bad Note In March 1970, Brown fired his band for complaining about his system of fining anyone who played a wrong note. In their place he pulled in a young Cincinnati act named The Pacesetters, led by brother Catfish and Bootsy Collins, aged 27 and 19 respectively, and renamed them The JB’s. The first recording Brown made with The JBs as his band was “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine.”   It is regarded as one of the greatest and most important soul records ever made.


A Movie Restarted Brown’s Career Disco appeared in the 1970s, sending Brown’s career into a nosedive.  He was rediscovered after he met John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd in Studio 54 in 1979 and they asked him to play Reverend Cleophus James in 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. By the mid-1980s his music was everywhere all over again, and he was earning millions from the myriad hit records that sampled his work. “There’d be no hip hop without James Brown,” clarified Chuck Dee of Public Enemy.

He Impersonated Little Richard Early in his career, James Brown had the same manager as Little Richard, and on more than one occasion, the future Godfather of Soul impersonated his friend onstage when the rock and roll pioneer couldn't make a date. Brown reportedly did a great Little Richard impersonation, but he never managed to fool the audience. 

He Never Topped The Billboard Hot 100 Though Soul Brother No. 1 lived up to his nickname on the R&B chart, where he scored 17 No. 1 hits, none of his singles made it to the top of Billboard's pop chart. The one that came closest was his 1964 hit "I Got You (I Feel Good)," which peaked at No. 3.