- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Gotham (March 15, 2012)
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, but 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 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, as Smith traces the legend’s reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, and his evolution as an artist whose crucial influence spans at least 5 decades.
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 Men’s Vogue. His first book, The Great Black Way: LA in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and recipient of a California Book Award. He lives in Los Angeles.
R.J. Smith’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Tuesday, March 20th: Six String Theories
Monday, March 26th: Man of La Book
Wednesday, March 28th: Book Chase
Sunday, April 1st: Black Grooves (monthly e-zine)
Monday, April 2nd: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, April 12th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf