Learn More About Soul Brother Number One

Get On Up, the James Brown bio pic opens in theaters today. It's impossible to squeeze all the details about the Hardest Working Man in Show Business into a 2-hour film, but you can augment your knowledge about him here. To get a full view of his life, dive into the R.J. Smith's recent biography, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown (ML420.B769 S65 2012). Rather than a strict chronology, Smith takes a thematic approach to Brown's life and puts it in the context of the political and social climate of the times. Smith also gives a clear explanation of how Brown's music evolved; the title refers not only to Brown himself but also the emphasis on the first beat that was intrinsic to his band's defining the funk sound. 

We've discussed Brown's Live at The Apollo previously, but another inroad to appreciating Brown is his performance on The T.A.M.I. Show (DVD 4041), a concert from 1964 featuring many prominent acts of the day including the Rolling Stones and the Supremes. The concert was filmed and released in theaters, and it introduced Brown and his spectacular showmanship to a white audience.