James Brown had a long-lasting and successful career but met his end in 2006 at 73. The events that followed his death left a bitter taste in his mouth.
James Brown was a man with extraordinary talents. He was a singer, dancer, producer of music, and bandleader. His exploits led him to be called various nicknames, including “Godfather of Soul,” “Mr. Dynamite,” and “Soul Brother No. 1.”
Brown’s career lasted over 50 years. He played a significant role in the development of several musical genres during that period. His induction recognized his achievements in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which he was one of the first ten.
Brown started his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia. When he was appointed the leader singer of the famous rhythm and blues vocal group the Famous Flames, Brown rose to national prominence around the mid-1950s.
His exploits with his band earned him a reputation for being a dynamic performer on the stage. He moved away from gospel and blues music in the 1960s to more Africanized sounds and styles.
In the early 1970s, he established the funk sound through several hits. His songs often commented on social events were another highlight.
He had 17 albums that reached No. 1 at the end of his career. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts and held the record for the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that did not get to the pole position.
Brown’s music achievements and records are irreplaceable, but he also did horrible things in his lifetime. According to reports, Brown brutally abused and terrorized both his girlfriends as well as his wives. He also allegedly kicked one of his pregnant girlfriends down the stairs.
Reports say he held fellow musicians hostage and cheated them out of money. His bandmates were also reported to have been left in Rome for nine days by Brown.
After threatening to use his bathroom, Brown led police in a high-speed chase and was high on PCP.
Brown was married four times during his lifetime. Velma Warren, his first wife, was the result of Brown’s 1953 marriage. He had a son together. After a decade of marriage, they divorced. However, they remained in close contact until his passing.
In 2010, another of his daughters, Pettit, claimed his body had disappeared.
On October 22, 1970, Brown married for the second time to Deidre “Deedee” Jenkins. She had two children with him. The couple split in 1979. Jenkins’ daughter claimed that he had domestically abused Jenkins. Their divorce was finalized in 1981 on January 10.
Brown was married to Adrienne Lois Rodrigues for the third time. The marriage was fraught with domestic abuse allegations and was generally contentious.
Rodriguez filed for divorce in 1988, citing years-long cruelty treatment. They reconciled. She died in 1996. Brown was married to Tomi Rae Nynie for the fourth and final time. He hired her as his background singer.
Following the passing of the musician in December 2002, the couple held a ceremony to wed. But there was controversy about the circumstances.
Brown had many children during his life. He acknowledged nine of his kids, including five sons – Teddy, Terry, Larry, Daryl, and James Joseph Brown Jr. and four daughters – Lisa, Dr. Yamma Noyola Brown Lumar, Deanna Brown Thomas, and Venisha Brown.
In 1973, his eldest son, Teddy, died in a car accident. Venisha, however, passed away in 2018. In 2007, DNA tests showed that the singer had at least three extramarital kids, including LaRhonda Pettit.
Brown fell ill in December 2006. Brown went to Atlanta to get dental implants. He arrived late to the appointment. He was dizzy, weak, and looked awfully tired, so the dentist advised him to visit a doctor.
Brown visited Emory Crawford Long Memorial Hospital one day after his dental appointment. Brown was admitted to the hospital as a patient for observation and treatment.
Charles Bobbit was his friend and longtime manager. He revealed that he suffered from a persistent cough after returning from a European vacation. This was despite the singer never complaining about being sick and even performing while ill.
Brown was forced to cancel his already scheduled concerts in different cities but remained confident he would be discharged from the hospital before his New Year’s Eve shows in New Jersey and New York.
He was still in hospital as his condition worsened. At 1:45 a.m. on Christmas Day 2006, he passed away. He was 73 years old. His death was attributed to congestive heart disease due to complications from pneumonia.
Bobbit was there at Brown’s side when he died. Bobbit said that he stumbled and then admitted that he would die the next night. Bobbit also took three deep, slow breaths before falling asleep and when he died.
Besides the mystery surrounding his death, there have been uncertainties surrounding his body. Brown’s body has been moved around several times since his death.
After leaving the world, the famous singer didn’t rest in peace. Hynie, his widow, said that their son James II’s paternity was determined because his legs were cut to obtain bone marrow.
She further revealed that his body was relocated 14 times after his death amid family squabbles over his fortune. According to legal documents, Brown’s body was supposed to be temporarily placed inside a crypt in Deanna’s backyard.
Another one of Brown’s daughters, Pettit, claimed that his body had vanished and suggested a scheme to hide the circumstances.
The director of the funeral home denied this allegation. Deanna also denied Pettit’s claim via her publicist. CNN’s Thomas Lake looked into the matter and discovered conflicting information.
One source claimed that Brown’s whereabouts were confidential, while another stated that it was public knowledge that the body was in Deanna’s backyard. There have also been legal battles over Brown’s will and estate and questions over the legality of Hynie’s marriage to the singer.
The South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled her marriage to Brown valid in July 2018. She is now his surviving spouse and has all the rights that come with it.
In 2020, however, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Hynie wasn’t legally married to Brown and therefore had no rights to his estate. According to recent reports, the singer’s family has settled the legal battle for his estate that had been going on for 15 years.