Pune Media
Leading the news curation and publishing for the people of Pune

How James Brown inspired the music and career of Prince

(Credits: Far Out / Alamy / Yves Lorson)


Sat 9th Sep 2023 21.15 BST

Few have ascended to the pinnacle of achievement that James Brown reached. Without his contributions, many of the most prominent figures in music probably wouldn’t be around today, as the ‘Godfather of Soul’ established a benchmark that influenced nearly every musical genre.

For Prince, the powerful architect of some of the rock world’s greatest songs, his earliest exposure to the fire and energy of the Brown was through watching him perform. At the age of 11, his life changed when he got to witness Brown and The Famous Flames perform live at The Armoury in downtown Minneapolis; a show that marked Prince’s first foray into the realm of showmanship when his stepfather lifted him onto the stage to dance with the band, providing the emerging young artist with a close-up perspective of the funk legend in motion.

That night, Brown’s dynamic and electrifying stage presence undeniably served as a source of inspiration for Prince, with facets of his live performance evident in how he moved, engaged his audience, and directed his band. As a prodigious talent in his own league, Prince’s on-stage persona is frequently defined by his remarkable vitality, coupled with his capacity to mesmerise an audience solely through his physicality and presence.

As Queen’s Brian May once put it, after seeing Prince live in 2006: “He produces, as if out of a hat, choreography, vocal gymnastics, sensuality, dazzling keyboard playing, and world-class guitar-playing – all splashed out with an apparently careless bravura, and much of it treading the dangerous line between the planned and the spontaneous.”

With Brown as his muse, Prince was never in a position to acquiesce extravagance; instead, it was as inseparable from him as his inherent talent itself. So much so that the driving force of Brown’s funk style permeates many of Prince’s musical compositions, and the influence is evident in his body of work. In his song ‘Gett Off’, for example, the lyrics found in the fourth verse, “I like ’em fat, I like ’em proud, you’ve got to have a mother for me…” are paraphrased from Brown’s ‘Mother Popcorn’. Prince also makes the inspiration clear by saying, “reminds me of something James used to say” immediately before it. 

‘Mother Popcorn’ was featured as a single on Brown’s 1969 album It’s a Mother. Similar to many of Brown’s singles during that period, the song had a two-part format on both sides of the single release. During this time, Brown was fully embracing the Popcorn dance trend, evidenced by the release of songs like ‘The Popcorn’, ‘Lowdown Popcorn’, and ‘Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn’ in quick succession. Brown actually initially recorded the track as ‘You Got to Have a Mother for Me’, but it was rejected and re-recorded with a more direct reference to the Popcorn dance.

Another of Brown’s influences can be heard in Prince’s song ‘Gangster Glam’, which incorporates the drum fill from Brown’s song ‘Funky Drummer’. Over the course of his career, Prince also integrated many of Brown’s songs, such as ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being) A Sex Machine’, into his live performances. Then, in the late ’90s, he had the privilege of collaborating with Maceo Parker, Brown’s saxophonist. Parker joined Prince’s band during the early 2000s and contributed to albums like Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, Musicology, and 3121.

From the start of his career and right up to his passing, Brown’s impact on Prince transcended numerous facets of his artistry, encompassing not only his music but also his stage persona, vocal technique, performance charisma, leadership approach, genre experimentation, and even the themes explored in his songs. Prince held Brown in high regard as a trailblazing musician, as many contemporary artists still regard Prince to this day.

Most popular

{{#.}} {{#articles}} {{#title}} {{/title}} {{/articles}} {{/.}}

Images are for reference only.Images and contents gathered automatic from google or 3rd party sources.All rights on the images and contents are with their legal original owners.

Aggregated From –

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More