Since today (May 3) is James Brown’s 80th birthday, we decided to put together twenty more interesting facts about the Godfather of Soul.

Not only did James Brown revolutionize music, but he lead an interesting life. Check it out.

1. James Brown’s parents split up in 1937 and James was left in the custody of his aunt, who ran a house of prostitution, in Augusta, Georgia.

2. In 1949, James Brown was convicted of breaking and entering and sentenced to jail time at the Alto Reform School in Toccoa, Georgia.

3. James Brown and The Famous Flames signed their first deal with Federal Records in January of 1956.

4. In 1959, James Brown Recorded a song called “(Do The) Mashed Potatoes)” under the name of drummer Nat Kendrick for the Dade label in Miami.

5. James Brown debuted on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show in October of 1961.

6. James Brown debuted his song “I Got You (I Feel Good)” in Frankie Avalon’s movie “Ski Party” because he was locked in a contractual dispute with his record label.

7.  In 1965, a rumor spread that James Brown was heading overseas for a sex change operation, so he could marry band member Bobby Byrd.

8. Although he had previously supported Presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, James Brown accepted an invitation to perform at Richard Nixon’s Presidential inauguration.

9. In March of 1966, James Brown made his debut in the United Kingdom and Paris.

James Brown
James Brown and Al Sharpton

10. James Brown went on a tour of Africa for the first time in 1971, when he visited Nigeria and Zambia.

11. In July of 1971, James Brown signed an exclusive deal with Polydor Records.

12. James Brown performed at The Grand Ole Opry in March of 1979 and sang songs like “Tennessee Waltz,” “Your Cheating Heart” and a medley of his soul hits.

13. James Brown credited Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd with reviving his career in 1980, when he was featured in “The Blues Brothers” as Reverend Cleophus James.

14. James Brown addressed the congregation at Jim Belushi’s funeral in 1982, after the actor overdosed and died on heroin and cocaine.

15. In 1983, James Brown had issues with the IRS, who auctioned off his Lincoln Continental, a Mercedes-Benz, a customized van and his television, to pay off a $2.82 million dollar debt.

16. Police had to guard James round the clock in Chicago, after a maid foiled a plot by a would-be assassin, who flashed a handgun and stated he was going to kill the singer, who was booked for a two-day engagement at the Regal Theater.

17. in 1968, James Brown launched “Operation Black Pride,” which fed thousands of children around Christmas time.

18. In June of 1988, James Brown was arrested for drug possession (PCP) and assaulting his wife, Adrienne.

19. James Brown attempted to open a chain of soul food restaurants named Gold Platter.


20. James Brown once owned a 12-room, victorian style house in St. Albans, Queens. He bought the house from Mr. Bart and “Cootie” Williams, a great trumpet player who performed with Duke Ellington.

Two more for the road:

* In July of 1968, The Jackson 5 opened up for James Brown at The Apollo. After a bodyguard spent their hotel money, James Brown sent them to the apartment of Bobby Byrd, where he and his wife Vicki Anderson fed the youngsters and allowed the to stay, the night before their big performance.

* Joe Tex challenged James Brown in the late 1950’s, after James allegedly “stole” Joe Tex’s wife Bea.


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