Legendary Singer James Brown Dies

 Pioneering R&B legend James "The Godfather of Soul" Brown early today (Dec. 25) from an unknown illness in Atlanta, GA.

According to his representatives, Brown, 73, was admitted to Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday, suffering from Pneumonia.

He died around 1:45 a.m. with manager Charles Bobbitt by his side.

"We really don't know at this point what he died of," Brown's agent Frank Copsidas told the Associated Press.

Brown's story is one of triumph, as the singer was born in extreme poverty in 1933 in Augusta, GA. In the late 1940's, Brown was arrested for armed robbery.

He gained parole with the help of Bobby Byrd and formed a gospel group. After unsuccessful stints as a baseball player and a boxer, Brown joined Byrd's group The Avons.

The pair later went on to form their famed group, The Famous Flames in Macon, Georgia in 1955.

Brown and The Famous Flames released a number of seminal records as artists on Syd Nathan's historic Cincinnati, Ohio based label, King Records.

In the 1950's, Brown rode the charts with singles hits like "Please, Please, Please," "Try Me" and others.

In 1963, Brown released what many consider the most important record in his career - Live at the Apollo. The album captured the live energy of a James Brown concert and reached #2 on the charts.

Live at the Apollo was the start of Brown's fight for artistic control over his music career. In 1964 he released the hit single "Out of Sight" for Smash Records, while he was still under contract to King Records.

A following lawsuit prevented Brown from recording until King finally gave in and granted Brown more artistic freedom.

The result was a spate of hit records, including the crossover hits like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "I Got the Feelin," "It's A Man's World," "Licking Stick-Licking Stick" "Funky Drummer," "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" and others.

In 1969, Brown's band walked out on him due to his demanding nature as a bandleader.

Brown recruited a young group from Cincinnati named the Pacemakers, which featured Catfish Collins and legendary bassist Bootsy Collins, who became members of Parliament/Funkadelic.

Brown has had over 100 hits throughout his career in the United States. He also embraced Hip-Hop music early in the genre's evolution.

His records have been incorporated into the fabric of Hip-Hop music since the genre's inception in 1973. Since then, Brown's has been sampled countless times

He teamed with Hip-Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa to release the hit single "Unity" in 1984 and in 1988, Brown teamed with R&B/Hip-Hop group Full Force to release "Static, Pts. 1 & 2."

Brown was also an entrepreneur, as the owner of several publishing companies, radio stations and record labels, including the legendary People imprint.

In 1998, Brown sold $100 million in "James Brown" bonds to undisclosed insurance companies with the help of securities company The Pullman Group.

The bonds were secured against Brown's 750-song catalog, allowing Brown to use his catalog as collateral to help feed the poor and to finance the production of his Christmas album, Christmas for the Millennium & Forever

Brown became a pioneer of digital music with the release of Christmas for the Millennium & Forever.

The album was released via an exclusive deal with Emusic.com in 1999. Emusic.com licensed the album from Brown, who retained the master recordings and publishers and writer's rights.

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