The One: The Life and Music of James Brown (Google eBook)

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Penguin, Mar 15, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 464 pages
54 Reviews
The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time

Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life offstage was just as vibrant, and until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile. The One draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew Brown personally or played with him professionally. Using these sources, award-winning writer RJ Smith draws a portrait of a man whose twisted and amazing life helps us to understand the music he made.

The One delves deeply into the story of a man who was raised in abject-almost medieval-poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes. Covering everything from Brown's unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a bordello), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used "Say It Loud (I'm Black and Proud)" as its anthem, to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, Smith's meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era.

At the heart of The One is Brown's musical genius. He had crucial influence as an artist during at least three decades; he inspires pity, awe, and revulsion. As Smith traces the legend's reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, he gives this history a melody all its own.


  

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Nicely written and well-researched. - Goodreads
It was well written and the pacing made sense. - Goodreads
A fantastic work of scholarship. - Goodreads
And that is a victory for any music writer. - Goodreads

Review: The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

I had to turn this in to the library on account of going on a trip but I really enjoyed reading about one of most interesting people (not to mention hard-working) in show business. It was hard to read ... Read full review

Review: The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

User Review  - David Ward - Goodreads

The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith (Gotham Books 2012) (780.92) is an excellent biography of the man known by many nicknames such as "Music Box," "The One," and most notoriously ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

RJ Smith has been a senior editor at Los Angeles magazine, a contributor to Blender, a columnist for The Village Voice, a staff writer for Spin, and has written for GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and Menís Vogue. His first book, The Great Black Way, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and recipient of a California Book Award. He lives in Los Angeles.

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