My first memory of James Brown is distinct. I was 6 years old, in 1967. On Saturday mornings, I would go visit my next-door-neighbor, Scott Meineke. His family was one of the few in the neighborhood that had a color television. We'd sit and color and watch the Beatles' cartoon program, the Monkees and whatever else was on Saturday mornings. In the evenings, I'd sometimes go over there to watch the Batman television show.
One morning either we, or his teenaged brother must have had some music program on. Though it was a color television, I remember seeing the clip in black and white-- not all shows had converted to color yet. I was transfixed by this dynamic performer-- it was James Brown doing "I Feel Good." I was hooked for life.
James Brown stands out with a handful of American originals-- Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan are among them-- that really defined twentieth century American music.
This morning's New York Times has a picture of Brown performing in Riga, Latvia in July of this year. Here's James Brown from some time in the sixties.