Over James Brown
The interlocking drum and bass brilliance of "Funky Drummer," the exactly synchronized horns of "Cold Sweat," and the socially conscious "I'm Black and I'm Proud" all have one thing in common: repetitive perfection. The Godfather of Soul may have let loose with raw squeals, doo-wop moans, plaintive wails and commanding grunts, but the bands he led never missed a note. Intense raw energy has never been compressed as succinctly as the vacuum-sealed package making up James Brown's band. Over the years, Brown has served as a university for many of the tightest performers around -- his musical graduates include Maceo Parker, Clyde Stubblefield, Bernard Purdie, Jimmy Nolen, Fred Wesley, Bobby Byrd, Pee Wee Ellis and Bootsy Collins. His songs have crucially influenced genres like jazz (Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis), reggae (Lee Perry, Sly and Robbie) and hip-hop (hasn't every DJ sampled James Brown at one point or another?). Music hasn't been the same since. James Brown died in Atlanta, GA on Dec. 25th, 2006, at the age of 73.