The lives of celebrities are often perceived as easy or great by the public but they’re not always a bed of roses. Like any non-famous person they too have to deal with difficulties but with the added pressure of the public eye on them and perhaps few had it as rough as James Brown – the Godfather of Soul.
Brown stepped into the limelight in the late 50s and quickly drew admirers who loved to see his all-energy performances. During the 1960s he became legendary and his success remained at a peak until he passed away.
Known for his hard work and dedication, James joined the ‘Famous Flames’ in 1955 and recorded several smash hits, including ‘Please Please Please’, ‘Try Me’ and ‘(Do the) Mashed Potatoes’.
If the previous years helped establish him as a top act, his journey towards real success started with ‘Live at Apollo’ in 1963 where he wowed crowds with hits such as ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’, ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’, both of which were chart topping successes and became his signature tunes.
In the 1980s he bridged the gap between music and film when he appeared in classic flicks like ‘The Blues Brothers’, ‘Doctor Detroit’, ‘Rocky IV’ and ‘Miami Vice’, all of which helped revive his flagging career. It was his versatility and determination that saw him strive for success in each of his ventures.
Despite his film success the years preceding his Hollywood bow were fraught with personal difficulties. Throughout 1982 he was all but lost to drug addiction and his escapades with the psychosis-inducing ‘PCP’ or ‘Angel Dust’; a chemical compound which gives insane highs and endows the user with almost superhuman strength and pain resistance, were well covered by the press.
In 1988 he was arrested after a high-speed car chase and for reportedly assaulting an officer, as well as drug-related charges. He was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison, but released after only three.
By the time of his release he had become a shadow of his former self and was still gripped by drug addiction. Something had to give and he eventually checked himself into a drug rehabilitation centre where he underwent intensive treatment for 90 days.
Brown was a new man after the treatment and he put all the drugs, high-speed chases and shotgun incidents behind him. Despite his new approach to life his health was always a concern, especially as he was diagnosed with diabetes at a very young age. Perhaps the years of drug use took its toll on him and played some part in his development of prostate cancer but again, with treatment and care he successfully overcame the illness.
After so many music hits, numerous awards, film appearances and publicly aired mayhem, James Brown passed away on Christmas day, 2006, from a heart failure brought on my complications with pneumonia.