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James Brown: The Godfather of Soul Paperback – January 10, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (January 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560253886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560253884
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The autobiography Godfather of Soul was originally published before James Brown's late-'80s brushes with the law, so those looking for the man's thoughts on his drug problems and subsequent incarceration will walk away empty-handed. Seekers after the fine blend of social responsibility, cranked-up ego, and pronouncements on his own music and its place in the world, however, will be amply rewarded. Fascinating tidbits--from the claim that Elvis Presley once hoped to record with the JBs to the story of being able to find only white and Asian kids in a last-minute recruiting effort for the shout-along on "Say It Loud--I'm Black and I'm Proud"--abound. But you probably guessed as much of the auteur of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," Live at the Apollo, and "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto." --Rickey Wright --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Published in hardcover in 1986--before "the hardest working man in show business" was arrested in Georgia--this new edition updates an autobiography that PW called "both involving and inspirational." Photos.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Very strong, uplifting and powerful.
Amazon Customer
What Brown says about his music, where it came from, how it was made, what he intended to say, really made me discover many things in his records!
Miguel Angel Martinez Rolland
I bought this book a couple of years ago, and once I began reading the first page I couldn't stop until I'd finished the whole book.
F. Wells

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Miguel Angel Martinez Rolland on August 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a life. What a personality. I have enjoyed this book enormously: You get the feeling that this is James Brown telling you his extraordinary story in a long and fascinating conversation. He talks about his music, his personal life and troubles, his philosophy, and, what I think is most thrilling, show business and stage performance.

My main goal in reading this book was resolving a personal doubt: Was he the genius behind his records, or was it Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley or his producers? After reading the book and listening to his records with lots of new insights, I have little doubt that the main driving force (although not the only one) in his records was himself. What Brown says about his music, where it came from, how it was made, what he intended to say, really made me discover many things in his records! For instance, if you have 'Live At The Apollo (1963)' (one of Brown's best albums) or have listened to it, DON'T MISS what he has to say about it -and play the LP again. I couldn't stop laughing for almost a quarter of an hour.

On another hand, I was also wondering: Is he a ruthless, egotistic and authoritarian character, as he is sometimes portrayed? In the book, JB openly and candidly talks about the discipline in his band, prison, guns, Black Power, and politics; and, paradoxically, in the end I finished with the impression of having received a lesson in confidence in man, tolerance, faith and spirituality. Soulful singers like him or BB King really have something to say about life-not only in their records.

On a last note, I think the (co-)writer Bruce Tucker has structured the book very well, hooking you from the beginning until the last page. As usual, it is better to avoid beginning with the prefaces and forewords, and leave them for the end.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Landsberg VINE VOICE on November 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm usually not so crazy about Star Biographies... for a variety of reasons, they're usually attention getting "feel bad for me" vs. "worship me" ploys taken from the pages of magazines atleast I wouldn't be caught dead reading outside of a doctor's office, however - - THIS BOOK IS DIFFERENT (!) It is enormously well written - - Though its pretty clear Bruce Tucker wrote most of it, he managed to dig down into JBs soul and convey his RAGS TO RICHES story quite convincingly, capturing his voice while telling about his rise and fall (<-- the IRS and disco got him) and his come back at the time This book is so well written that I've actually reread it SEVERAL times since it initially came out in the mid '80s. - - Though it is a bit ironical that JBs life would get a bit more "complicated" after it was written (the drugs, run-ins with the law, death of his wife etc.) it is clear that Brown & Tucker have presented to the world a book that's engrossing and definitely a keeper... It will bring a whole new meaning to the music !
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Simon on June 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One of the best bio's I have read! Took only 3-4 days to read since it moved at a very fast pace with so many things happening in James Browns life. His upbringing, music, family, record companies, IRS, managers, riots, struggles are all here. Before reading this I was a big fan even though I was not sure of the place this man occupied in music, as an innovater and business person, now I do. The first man to popularize the "live" album, strict band leader, tireless composer/arranger, producer, drummer, singer, dancer and many more things that one person had in him (as well as surrounded himself with exceptional musicians and some exceptional business partners). Also learned of his ethnic background which is Asian/Black/Indian. Many roadblocks on the way and a glimpse of what the business end of the entertainment world is like round out an exceptional and candid look into the life of Soul brother number 1!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read James'initial autobiographical treatment of his life. Therefore, it was a must for me to obtain the 1997 "Godfather of Soul." It is a thorough, well-written masterpiece of a master showman and a remarkably diligent and outstanding individuality. This is a remarkable treatment of a remarkable individual. More than twenty years ago I watched Dick Clark's interview of James. I interpereted what he said to James at one point as follows: How are you able to withstand the pressure of being the best in the world and not having your own show when people all around who can't touch you have shows and the wealth, etcetera, that goes with it? Clark inferred that anyone who could do as James- and not receive the grand credit that they had been denied for long must be an extremely strong person. I admire how James- from a background of extreme poverty in the forests of Barnesville, S.C. worked and overcame formidable odds to become the greatest show person and dancer who ever lived. His music can instantly and frequently be heard in many recordings of all types of music. I have heard his music in spiritual song, blues, popular recordings, and opera. I have seen live operatic performances featuring his music. I particularly am moved by the phrase in the text which goes something like: If you mess with James Brown you got a problem. I recall when he took the Memphis, Tn. police dept. to court. That counts with me! In the book he alluded to someone who tried to do him physical harm just because of who he was. I am familiar with the stories I have heard of how he did a lot to help people all through his grand career.Read more ›
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