I don't blame Led Zeppelin for hair metal, though enthusiasts of that genre pointed to the English quartet as their inspiration. Likewise, I don't blame James Brown for rap, though the riffs, grooves, and grunts of his work permeate the genre, particularly in its sample-happy early years. How could anyone blame James Brown for anything, especially after hearing Get on the Good Foot? A junior-high dropout from South Carolina, Brown paid tribute to America at the same time he celebrated his blackness. "Say it loud/I'm black and I'm proud," African American school children sang on one his most famous tunes. Unlike W.E.B. Du Bois, Brown did not find being black and being American "two warring ideals." Brown was the total package: he danced, he sang, he preached, he wore larger-than-life get-ups and hair-don'ts. He was the ultimate showman. Dubbed the hardest working man in show businesses, the sweat on his brow attested to it and his live audiences believed it. So did those at his death bed. On Christmas, Brown vowed to get well for his New Year's Eve Show. He'll be playing the bandstand in the sky. James Brown, rest in peace.
He also contributed to one of the more ridiculous moments in "Rocky" history when he performed this Living in America in "Rocky IV":
Here's a good ending....