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In the early 1960s, James Brown released his third million-selling hit, "Think". But this period's biggest triumph was a live recording, cut two days into the Cuban missile crisis, on 24 October 1962.
It filled him with a spectacular drive to achieve, but also instilled in him a paranoia that fostered the bizarre, cartoon-like figure he often degenerated to in later life.
James Joe Brown Jnr was born in 1933 (some sources say 1928) in a one-room country shack just outside Barnwell, South Carolina.
His parents separated when he was four and Brown didn't see his mother again until 1959.
The Rev Al Sharpton, a friend of his, once commented, "James Brown changed the whole cultural paradigm of black America.
He was a way of life." Indeed, Brown publicly championed the civil rights struggle, recorded countless message songs like "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud", dined with presidents, cooled down race riots and performed for US troops across Vietnam.
A number of minor and then more substantial R&B hits, like "Try Me" (1958), followed.
Like most black acts touring the segregated South, they experienced racism at hotels, diners, gas stations and sometimes in the very venues where they were performing. In the last year of the decade, with a healthy national following, the group, now billed as James Brown and the Famous Flames, made their début at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
The Byrd family helped him procure parole and Brown was released in 1952. These musicians evolved into the Flames, performing across Georgia in the mid-1950s - with Brown out front, singing and dancing.
In 1956, after impressing Ralph Bass, King Records' A&R man, with their demo, the Flames' very first single, "Please Please Please", was released, eventually selling over a million copies.
A raw, emotional singer, electric performer and tough bandleader, he instigated a number of dramatic, indeed revolutionary, shifts on the black musical map.
Certainly, he was wholly responsible for fashioning R&B/soul into funk during the Sixties.
In a society rife with overt racism, Brown's childhood was affected by the poverty that arose from such prejudice.