Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

21 February 2012

The One:
The Life and Music of James Brown

"The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
RJ Smith
464 pages, Gotham (March 15, 2012)

The definitive biography of "James Brown", the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, and entrepreneur.
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, and until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile.
"The One" draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew "James 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-almost medieval-poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes.
Covering everything from "James Brown"'s unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a house of prostitution), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used "Say It Loud (I'm Black and Proud)" in as its anthem after the assassination of "Martin Luther King", to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, "RJ Smith"'s meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era.
At the heart of "The One" is "James Brown"'s musical genius.
He had crucial influence as an artist during at least three decades; he inspires pity, awe, and revulsion.
As "RJ Smith" traces the legend's reinvention of Funk, Soul, R&B, and Pop, he gives this history a melody all its own.