James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006.
There isn't much else to say there. I could say we'll miss him, that there's a massive hole left in our musical landscape. I could talk about all the people he's influenced, but it's all been said before by more capable and qualified people.
Here's what I will say: throughout my life I've seen people pay tribute to this man. Many tributes/references/homages have ingrained themselves in my psyche. Here's my top five favorite list:
#5 - Sonny Liston training for his fight with Cassius Clay (who later took the name Mohammed Ali) while listening to "Night Train." I remember seeing a documentary showing how the two fighters prepared for this match. "Night Train" (both the original and James Brown version) was Liston's favorite song. For some reason this image of Liston training to this song has stuck in my head over the years.
#4 - Jackie Chan finishing Brown's act in "The Tuxedo." Yes, Jackie can dance. Martial arts is just another form of chorography after all. "The Tuxedo" was very mediocre overall, but I did like that part of the movie.
#3 - MC Hammer's tribute in his video "Here Comes the Hammer (SUPERBAD)" This video is a kick. "Watch Me!"
#2 - JE works here in my office. He's pretty high up there on the food chain and is an ordinary, nice, well educated white guy. He stunned me during our annual karoke charity party last July by singing (including all the shouts) "I got you (I feel good)." It was a performance that brought the house down. He also ran the New York Marathon this year and beat Lance Armstrong and his posse! In the spirit of JE's campy performance, I'm including a link to James Brown performing (in a ski sweater!) "I got you (I feel good)" in the 1965 Frankie Avalon movie "Ski Party."
#1 - Eddie Murphy as Hot Tub Man #1 doing the "James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party" sketch on Saturday Night Live. One of my all time favorite sketches from this show. I love it.
I heard a killer version of "Sex Machine" while driving to my New Year's Eve weekend destination. It made me glad to be alive. I'm closing this post with great video (thanks to YouTube.com for the links to this post) of James Brown performing "Sex Machine" live in Paris 1971.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Brown.