Soul Brother No. 1: The James Brown Quiz

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About This Quiz

Mr. Dynamite. Godfather of Soul. You can earn a lot of nicknames in a career spanning half a century. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the music, life and troubles of the great James Brown.

What year was James Brown born?

James Joseph Brown Jr. entered the world on May 3, 1933, in Barnwell, South Carolina.

True or false: James Brown grew up in a brothel.

When Brown was only four years old, his parents split, and he went to live with his Aunt Honey, who ran a brothel in Augusta, Georgia.

True or false: James Brown's childhood was spent in poverty.

Brown was born in a one-room shack and grew up during the Great Depression, working odd jobs to earn a few pennies to survive.

Why was Brown kicked out of school at age 12?

Brown was so poor as a child that he wore clothes made from rags and old sacks. His lack of proper clothing got him kicked out of school in the seventh grade.

How old was Brown the first time he went to prison?

After he was caught breaking into cars at age 16, Brown spent three years in prison. While behind bars, he met future musical partner Bobby Byrd.

What was the name of the first band Brown joined?

In 1955, Brown joined the Gospel Starlighters. The band later changed their name to the Famous Flames.

What was the name of Brown's first hit song?

Brown's demo of "Please, Please, Please," which he recorded in 1956, hit No. 6 on the rhythm and blues charts and helped him land his first record deal.

What was the first James Brown song to hit No. 1 on the charts?

After going solo in 1958, Brown put together a brand-new backing band and recorded "Try Me," which became his first No. 1 hit.

True or false: James Brown rarely performed live during the early years of his career.

Brown performed five or six nights a week throughout the '50s and '60s, earning him the nickname "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business."

What year did James Brown record his famous album "Live at the Apollo"?

Against the advice of his label, Brown recorded "Live at the Apollo" during a single night in 1962.

True or false: "Live at the Apollo" was a smash hit.

The live album that Brown's label advised against sold more than a million copies and stayed on the pop charts for 14 months — a huge feat for an African-American performer.

What year did Brown release "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"?

"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" came out in 1965. Many point to this song as the first in the funk genre.

What did James Brown do as race riots raged in April 1968?

As race riots raged in April 1968, Brown went on television and prayed for peace. He then had his performances shown live on TV, which kept many of his fans inside glued to the television and away from the dangerous riots.

How many instrumental albums did Brown release during the '60s?

Brown released a whopping 11 instrumental albums from 1961 to 1971. While none were major successes, they allowed him to show off his skill on piano and organ.

Which of these songs did NOT come out in the 1970s?

Brown enjoyed numerous hits throughout the early and mid-'70s, but "The Popcorn" came out in 1969.

What 1980 movie did James Brown appear in?

An appearance in "The Blues Brothers" as a preacher helped put James Brown back in the spotlight after a period of struggle during the late '70s.

What 1979 album featured "It's Too Funky in Here"?

Appearing on "The Original Disco Man," "It's Too Funky in Here" was a major hit for James Brown in 1979.

Which James Brown song was featured prominently in "Rocky IV"?

In 1985, "Living in America" became Brown's biggest hit since the '60s after it appeared in "Rocky IV."

What year was James Brown inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Brown was part of the very first class of musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

What year was James Brown arrested for leading police on a car chase?

After a period during which his career was in an upswing, Brown was arrested in 1988 and went on to serve two years in prison.

What did Brown name his 1998 album?

After losing his wife and suffering through plenty of legal trouble, James Brown released "I'm Back" in 1998.

What year did Brown release his final studio album?

"The Next Step," released in 2002, was Brown's final studio album, though he continued touring until his death.

What killed James Brown?

James Brown died on Christmas 2006 of pneumonia and heart failure.

How many times did Brown marry?

Brown married four times, starting with his first wife, whom in he wed in 1953.

True or false: James Brown couldn't read sheet music.

Despite his years in the industry, Brown never learned to read music.

How many Grammys did James Brown win?

In a career spanning nearly half a century, Brown picked up just three Grammys, including one for lifetime achievement.

What song won Brown his first Grammy?

James Brown picked up his first Grammy at age 38 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag."

How many children did James Brown have?

Brown had seven children but wasn't really close to them. Late in his life, his children were forced to make appointments to see him.

Who did Brown leave the bulk of his fortune to in his will?

While Brown planned to leave the bulk of his money to needy children, his will was hotly contested, leaving his fortune in limbo a full decade after his death.

What is the name of the 2014 James Brown biopic?

"Get On Up," with Chadwick Boseman as James Brown, tells the story of Brown's rise to fame.

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