Friday, December 29, 2006 at 11:51 AM

James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul”, is dead!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

When news broke on Christmas Day that James Brown (73) had died of congestive heart failure, I did not think his passing was worthy of comment; except perhaps to note that he was probably the most famous and enduring one-hit wonder in entertainment history (ie. “I feel good”; I dare you to name another hit?). But, since so many of you have asked, I have preempted my regular “Good (news) Friday” feature to share my thoughts on the death of the “Godfather of soul”.

I’ve only seen Brown perform on TV. And the only thing I found entertaining about his performances was his trademark shuffle – a “sex-machine” version of Chubby Checker’s twist. Beyond this, all I got from Brown’s performances was a series of incomprehensible grunts and screams, which Eddie Murphy lampooned with flattering effect during his stint on Saturday Night Live.

It is also curious to note that – even though blacks are now wailing about him as if he were their pride and joy – Brown survived as an entertainer primarily by performing as a golden-oldie act for mostly white audiences. Indeed, it’s more than a little symbolic that as blacks cried crocodile tears for him up in Harlem, Brown’s white “wife” (and mother of his 5-year old child), Tomi Rae Hynie, was shedding genuine tears down in South Carolina outside the gates of his mansion because lawyers for Brown’s other three or four wives (and 7 children) had locked her out as soon as he was pronounced dead.

The lawyers claim that they did this “to protect his estate” because Hynie’s marriage to Brown in 2001 was null and void. Evidently, her divorce from her previous husband was not final when they got married. However, rumor has it that they did it in fact to protect his assets from being seized by Brown’s creditors with whom he was involved in a $25-million dispute at the time of his death.

Thus the legal scandals which plagued Brown in life seem fated to follow him to his grave. After all, this was a man whose drug problems and run-ins with the law made Bobby Brown seem like a choir boy.

Nevertheless, thousands of blacks, led by their pied-piper Al Sharpton, seem determined to give Brown a farewell worthy of a head of state. It’s too bad, however, that coverage of the real state funeral of former President Gerald Ford and rumors of the imminent execution of Saddam Hussein have relegated their posthumous tributes to a sideshow.

Meanwhile, many of the black men who paid their respects to him (and, alas, to Al Sharpton who stood in front of his open coffin all day like a zealous eunuch) claimed that Brown was their role model and that his catchy lyric “say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” helped them develop self-esteem.

Of course, given that Brown was married to a white woman, and was a serial adulterer, wife beater and law breaker, this would explain, in part, why so many black women are heads of household, and why more black men are in prisons than in colleges….

But, if Brown was as proud a black man as his fans claim, I suspect he would be indignant at the whitewashing of his troubled, and hardly exemplary, life that is now underway.

Comments

  1. Valdez December 29, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Get up off of that thang!!!
    Please read:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2156219

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