James Brown used to scare the hell out of Whitey. “Say it loud! I’m black and I’m proud!” he sang in the 1960s, as he danced in his pointy shoes and flipped back his greasy pompadour.
James Brown begat a whole wave of funk and soul artists, making it possible to put out music for the masses without “sweetening” (read: “whitening”) your songs ala Motown. It’s hard to imagine folks like Sly and the Family Stone, a whole raft of 1970s funk acts or Prince without James Brown.
James Brown died today, Christmas Day, 2006. He will never be replaced.