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The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
     

The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

3.3 6
by R. J. Smith
 

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The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time.

Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life

Overview

The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time.

Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life offstage was just as vibrant, but until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile. The One draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew Brown personally or played with him professionally. Using these sources, award-winning writer RJ Smith draws a portrait of a man whose twisted and amazing life helps us to understand the music he made.

The One delves deeply into the story of a man who was raised in abject poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes. Covering everything from Brown's unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a bordello), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used "Say It Loud (I'm Black and Proud)" as its anthem, to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, Smith's meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era. At the heart of The One is Brown's musical genius, as Smith traces the legend's reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, and his evolution as an artist whose crucial influence spans at least 5 decades.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Audio
Smith, senior editor at L.A. Magazine and winner of the California Book Award, has written the definitive biography of James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul." He covers all of Brown's life, from his troubled, destitute childhood in "Georgia-Lina" through his time as an exacting band leader and finishing with his legacy years and death in 2006. Smith's well-researched and nuanced book presents a fascinating and personal portrait of the star and a compelling interpretation of his music. Experienced narrator Kevin R. Free delivers an excellent performance well suited to the pace and enthusiasm of Brown's life. VERDICT Strongly recommended to Brown's fans who'll "go crazy."—Mark Swails, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781461842163
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
03/12/2012

Meet the Author

R.J. Smith has been a senior editor at Los Angeles magazine, a contributor to Blender, a columnist for The Village Voice, a staff writer at Spin, and a contributor to numerous other publications. His award-winning cultural history, The Great Black Way, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. He lives in Los Angeles.

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The One: The Life and Music of James Brown 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the first chapter starts by making heroes out of escaped slaves for killing white women and children.  at the end of the first chapter he goes on to call the 1 and the 3 the upbeats of the measure and says that there is an accent on the three in funk too.  this is infuriating to me because its getting such great reviews.  the author should have done some research before trying to write the definitive biography on a legend.  the best book on james brown ive seen is the funk masters, it is based on fact and actually breaks down the rhythm sections  with sheet music for most of his big hits. 
-fosterfunk- More than 1 year ago
Just as James Brown himself..........this book is Superbad!!!!!!!!!!
mshoni More than 1 year ago
I don't think that I can categorize myself as a James Brown "fan". His music has just always been there as a part of my life. From my parents albums to the samples used in the hip-hop music I later gravitated towards as a young adult. While the subtitle says "Life And Music", this book is more of a memoir of Brown as a musician and businessman, covering his entrepreneurial spirit from boyhood on. His personal and family life is not covered with as much scrutiny. That's probably for the better, because, although he was know to be gracious to children (his own and strangers), he was not that kind to the women in his life. The stories of him as a strict bandleader are legendary and those are included. Hearing about his creating and recording process was enlightening, especially since his career spanned so many decades and he had to reinvent himself several times. What I found really interesting was the political and socially conscious James Brown. I wasn't aware of his close ties with President Nixon and Vice President Hubert Humphrey and it was difficult reconciling this James Brown with the one who wrote "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud). Exhaustive interviews provide a comprehensive look at how he became one of the hardest working men ever in entertainment. This is a must-read for anyone who loves contemporary music. The author is obviously a big fan of music, because sometimes his descriptions border on the poetic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith is a biog­ra­phyof the God­fa­ther of Soul. The title “The One” refers mainly to the artist’s empha­sis on play­ing the right beat. An inte­grated biog­ra­phy of James Brown with fas­ci­nat­ing insights into the artist’s life, show­man­ship, busi­ness ven­tures and activism. With more than forty hits on the Bill­board charts and play­ing 350 shows a year at his peak it is no won­der James Brown became an icon of Amer­i­can music and changed the industry. Cov­er­ing a life of a man whose eccen­tric child­hood included tak­ing sol­diers to his aunt that ran a house of ill repute, to an adult­hood which he man­aged to lose sev­eral for­tunes, this biog­ra­phy is com­pli­cated, sin­cere and will make you feel a range of emotions. The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith is a true tes­ta­ment that the nick­name of “The Hard­est Work­ing Man in Show Busi­ness” is not an empty ges­ture. While I don’t think I’d like to have worked with Mr. Brown or even would have liked him per­son­ally, I can cer­tainly appre­ci­ate and even admire his work ethic. In this new biog­ra­phy, which digresses often but always stays on mes­sage, James Brown comes across as a demand­ing, vio­lent, abus­ing and demand­ing man. How­ever, this giant of music grew up in vio­lent times; shaped by a seg­re­gated South in a rural com­mu­nity rid­dled with crime and poverty, which he never for­got and had had a hold on him. When you’re a ham­mer, every prob­lem looks like a nail. And James Brown was a hammer. You can­not have a biog­ra­phy of James Brown with­out men­tion­ing the Civil Rights move­ment. Mr. Brown saw “equal­ity” his way and accord­ing to his phi­los­o­phy, he always main­tained that once he’d be looked upon as a man, instead of a black man, he’d never be equal. Most of all, James Brown under­stood show­man­ship and con­trol. In the video below one could tell how he plays with the crowd – and he does it all like he did every­thing in life, under his own terms. “"I never thought they’d have a statue of you in Augusta– and fac­ing a con­fed­er­ate marker!” He touched [Al] Sharp­ton on the arm, say­ing, “And don’t for­get what I told you– I did it on my own terms. I never con­formed to Augusta; they had to con­form to me” The com­plex per­son­al­ity of this musi­cal titan comes across through the pages. From bran­dish­ing a gun to resolve dis­putes to pick­ing up young fans with his lim­ou­sine or from pro­fil­ing those who worked for and/or against Mr. Brown (yes… and) to a fab­u­lous story of Mr. Brown com­ing home to the town he loved, Augusta, GA only to be stopped by a fan and then hoist­ing a sign to wel­come the young man’s mother who was on the same flight (I think). Race rela­tions and civil rights are really the strong point in this book. Through the life of James Brown the reader gets a his&#17