Death stilled the pulse of a performer this week, but not the pulse of his legacy. The loss of the Godfather of Soul on Christmas Day was the final stage exit for James Brown the man, but James Brown the legend and the impacts of his music will not fade.
Brown was a larger-than-life figure who always will be known as the hardest-working man in show business. Even hospitalized, he talked of looking forward to his New Year's Eve show at B.B. King Blues Club in New York. Instead he lay in state, or whatever the musical world equivalent of that is, at New York's Apollo Theater Thursday before his hometown funeral services Saturday in Augusta, Ga.
Brown was an icon, known for his onstage gyrations and dance moves intertwined with the microphone. He developed a musical style that has been imitated by so many others -- including Prince, Mick Jagger and even Snoop Dogg.
As his good friend the Rev. Al Sharpton said, Brown was to soul, hip-hop, rap and other modern genres what Bach was to classical music. He was also an icon of social justice. His famous song, "Say It Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud," became a landmark 1968 statement of racial pride.
Generations remember Brown, who died at the age of 73, in various settings. Those who grew up listening to him recall his impact during the 1960s. He won a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1992, in addition to his Grammy in 1965 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and for "Living In America" in 1987. He was one of the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Many people remember him on screen in the 1980 movie, "The Blues Brothers."
Brown changed history. He influenced music of all genres. He brought a style that has never been matched but will be forever imitated. He was a people's entertainer and a true countryman. Brown will be missed, but his music will echo always.