The hardest working man in show biz takes a final bow

It was literally a silent night this Christmas for the family and fans of legendary soul man, James Brown.

Brown showed up for a dentist appointment on Dec. 24, when according to the New York Beacon, his dentist, Dr. Terry Reynolds, noticed that Brown looked “very weak and dazed.” He urged Brown to immediately check himself into a local hospital.

Even though his condition continued to worsen with the oncoming hours, reportedly Brown was looking forward to performing a New Year’s Eve show at Count Basie Theater in New Jersey. He turned to his family and friends and said, “I’m going to be there. I’m the hardest working man in show business.”

The next morning, Brown, 73, died of complications of pneumonia which resulted in congestive heart failure.

The events to follow were as flamboyant as the life that Brown led. There were a series of funerals in Brown’s name, including a special viewing at the infamous Apollo Theater in the Harlem district of New York. Shortly after, legal issues erupted between Brown’s six adult children and the trustees of his estate that he appointed in 2000. The legal issues included the final resting place of the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Soul.” Throughout the litigation, Brown’s body has been kept at his home in Columbia, S.C. in a temperature-controlled room that is being constantly monitored by security guards.

Even though Brown has yet to be buried, it appears that in the minds of many students, he was buried a long time ago.

“I know his name, but I can’t say for sure why he is important,” senior nursing major, and country fan Tricia Weber said.

This seemed to be also the case for 50 random University students who were asked about Brown’s influence and to name at least one of his songs.

Out of the students surveyed, only two answered correctly.

Zak Kaye, an up-and-coming solo musician found this to be especially troublesome.

“I find most people our age though are into their one favorite type of music and tend to dismiss anything that’s not within their musical comfort zone,” Kaye said.

However, Kaye challenges students to trace back the roots of their favorite modern day musicians and guarantees that there will be influences from Brown.

“[Brown’s] influence was very universal and impacted more than the R’B genre. He made a show out of the music, with his whole schtick with the cape and everything,” Kaye said. ” He made music more than just listening to a guy sing. This indirectly made it alright for bands like Kiss and eventually Slipknot or Mudvayne.”

Because of the aforementioned reasons, Brown was labeled as the “Godfather of Soul” and”The Hardest Working Man in Show business.”

Besides the spectacle side of music, Brown also pushed many limits that were taboo for the time, according to Tim Hufnagle, an instructor for the popular culture department who specializes in popular music.

“James Brown was louder, brassier, more raw and definitely more funky. He didn’t hide his sexuality, and that was probably seen as threatening to many in his time,” Hufnagle said.

Regardless of the drama surrounding his life and death, Brown’s impact on popular music cannot be overlooked and according to Hufnagle, will be something that can never be experienced again.

“If the generations of today and the future want to really experience James Brown, it’s too late. The closest thing to it would be to watch footage of him performing live, but even then, you still wouldn’t have the communal experience that you would have being in an audience that is firmly pressed in the palm of his hand.”