Long Live the Godfather, The Godfather is Dead

Sad, but true. The Godfather of Soul, IronMan, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, and arguably the most famous resident of the greater Augusta, Georgia area has passed on. The photo below is an old favorite by my friend Blake Madden taken at one of the annual Birthday Bashes from his days at the Chronicle. James was a regular fixture around town in the years I worked for the Augusta Chronicle, and we were forever covering his antics and benevolent activities, or running into him at some dive bar on Broad Street. I remember a story by one of the ‘old time’ shooters who told tales of tromping through the woods alone with James, their only company the shotgun in the Godfather’s hands shortly after his release from prison. I will always remember catching one of his legendary birthday bashes at the local Bell Auditorium (now named for James Brown, and the likely location of his ‘homecoming’ event this weekend) – where various grade-B celebs from around the world would join the crowd to groove to guest artists, and ultimately, several numbers by the still-amazing master himself – even in his late 60s. He could dance and sing like a man in his 20s, keeping pace with the likes of MC Hammer and others. From annual Toy and Turkey giveaways for the holidays, to the bizzarre story of his wife’s OD after plastic surgery, James Brown was certainly an entertaining figure – in all sense of the term. Watch this video of James at his best – sometime in the 60s where he belts out an amazing improvisational accompaniment to Maceo Parker’s sax solo. And visit the extensive coverage online by the Chronicle.

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