Turn to these books to learn more about James Brown

Many words have been written about James Brown, including some attributed to (but more likely ghost-written) by the Godfather of Soul himself.


Don Rhodes, the music columnist for The Augusta Chronicle, came up with this list when he was writing his own book about Brown: Say It Loud! My Memories of James Brown, Soul Brother No. 1, which was released in hardback in 2008 by The Globe Pequot Press.

He updated the list when the book was reissued in paperback as Say It Loud! The Life of James Brown, Soul Brother No. 1, on July 1:
I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul, by James Brown with Marc Eliot, 2005, Penguin Group.

The School Library Journal says, “Aspiring entertainers can benefit from the business, artistic, and personal advice that Brown interweaves throughout the book.”

The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of America, by James Sullivan, 2009, Gotham. 

This book talks about how Brown saved Boston from being burned by angry blacks after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 by his calming words and having his Boston concert televised.

James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, An Autobiography, by James Brown, 1986, Macmillan Publishing Co.; 1990, reprint, Thunder’s Mouth Press.

A review on amazon.com says, “Seekers after the fine blend of social responsibility, cranked-up ego, and pronouncements on his own music and its place in the world ... will be amply rewarded.”

The James Brown Reader: Fifty Years of Writing About The Godfather of Soul, Nelson George and Alan Leeds, editors, 2008, Plume Publishers.

One amazon.com customer wrote, “Five decades of JB’s career are covered in rare (and long) interviews (one from the ’70s with less than flattering comments from the entourage) and concert reviews (which, surprisingly, do not really address the joyous mass rapture evident on the live recordings).”

James Brown, Profiles in Music, text by Nancy Loewan, 1989, Rourke Enterprises Inc.

Not much seems to have been posted online about this book.

Satisfied Mind: The Country Music Life of Porter Wagoner, by Steve Eng, 1992, Thomas Nelson publishers.

This book is mainly about the career of Grand Ole Opry star Wagoner, but one chapter is about Wagoner having Brown as his guest on the Opry.

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, by Peter Guralnick, 1999, Back Bay Books.

The One, The Life and Music of James Brown, by R.J. Smith, 2012, Gotham.

Smith came to Augusta and spent a lot of time talking to close associates of Brown. This very detailed book is one of the best about Brown’s life and music.

They Heard Georgia Singing, by Zell Miller, 1996, Mercer University Press.

Former Gov. and Lt. Gov. Miller wrote this book about famous Georgia performers. One chapter is about Brown.