Known as the “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown stunned the nation with his groundbreaking tunes and expressive voice. While he was recognized as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” and one of the most passionate performers of all time, REELZ has now discovered the musician hid a dark childhood and troubled family past behind his cheerful exterior.
“James Brown’s upbringing was tragic,” says former friend, Rev. Al Sharpton, in Autopsy: James Brown’s show teaser. “His father was reputed to be very abusive to his mother, and when James Brown was three, she just left.”
“Joe Brown had a gun and said, ‘you aren’t taking my boy’ and was actually shooting at her as she [was] leaving,” adds the singer’s widow, Tomi Rae Brown.
After six years of living without his wife, Joe also left young James and joined the US Navy.
“He never learned to really, fully trust people, cause when you’re abandoned by your mother and your father, who can you trust?” recalls Sharpton.
Little James was then taken in by his great aunt Honey.
“She ran a house of ill repute… a prostitution house!” adds Sharpton. “[James Brown] grew up hustling nickels and dimes, dancing for the soldiers and getting them to go to the prostitutes.”
As RadarOnline.com readers know, Brown sold tens of millions of records to generations of adoring fans. He was still touring, and at the height of his fame, when he died unexpectedly at an Atlanta hospital on Christmas Day, 2006. He was 73 at the time.
Autopsy: James Brown airs Sunday, April 15 at 8:00 ET / PT on REELZ.