James Brown tunes

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The hardest working man in show business!

As one of the first 10 inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, James Brown, Mr. Dynamite, The Godfather of Soul, a man with many nicknames, is without a doubt one of the main pillars of popular culture.

His influence on other artists like Michael Jackson and later Janelle Monae can not be underestimated.

Bursting onto the scene already in 1956 as the lead singer of the vocal group Famous Flames, James released Please, Please, Please. As a single, it peaked at #6.

Two years later the debut album would be named the same as the single. On this album we also find Try Me, a single that apparently saved the band as they had struggled to follow up the initial success of Please, Please, Please.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a sign of what was to come as the next 6 albums didn’t have any hit tunes.

It would take until the 9th album, Out Of Sight (1964), now on a new record label (Smash) that things would finally start to fall into place for James. Hidden as an album track on the B-side we find I Got You.

James Brown’s signature tune didn’t have its full title yet and wasn’t even released as a single.

Rectified a year later and now released under his own name without the Famous Flames, I Got You (I Feel Good) was released using an alternative take on a Greatest Hits album. This is the version we all know.

1965 was the turnaround year as not only did he release his signature song, but also Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag. This one was used to promote two albums. First, an album with the same name as the single, then, the hilariously named James Brown Plays James Brown Today & Yesterday.

The hits keep coming!

1966 and another legendary James Brown hit drops in It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.

This would be followed by a Christmas album and more albums including covers of Hold On, I’m Comin’, When A Man Loves A Woman, Jimmy Mack, and Bernadette, all playing organ(!), before we get another James Brown original in Cold Sweat (1967).

1968 and another classic in I Got The Feelin’ arrives and here we have that classic James Brown sound that’s been sampled so many times since.

The same year, on his Christmas album we find Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud, which he then released again the following year using the same title. This tune was written by Pee Wee Ellis who also co-wrote Cold Sweat.

By now James had released an impressive 23 studio albums in only six years. No wonder he’s called the hardest-working man in show business!

Still, in 1968 James released Popcorn, where we get the lead single as well as The Chicken, which later would be famously covered by Jaco Pastorius.

1969 and James can’t get enough of Popcorn as he follows it up with Mother Popcorn and Mashed Potato Popcorn on the album Mother.

At the turn of the decade, Mr. Brown released his 27th studio album, Ain’t It Funky. Two singles here are forever to be cemented onto his setlist in Give It Up Or Turnit a Loose as well as Ain’t It Funky Now.

More albums with more covers like Georgia On My Mind and For Once In My Life followed before he, still in 1970(!) released Sex Machine, a double studio and live album containing the lead single, Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine.

1971 and James drops Super Bad and scores a #1. This was also an early sign of someone positively using the word bad.

During the ’70s, James became a worldwide superstar as he released 20 albums. 

On these albums we find, apart from the aforementioned Give It Up Or Turnit a Loose, Ain’t It Funky Now, Sex Machine, and Super Bad, we also get: Make It Funky, Get on the Good Foot, Get Up Offa That Thing, and It’s Too Funky In Here.

The ’80s saw him release six albums and only one more hit in Living In America, a tune that featured in the film Rocky IV.

In total, the hardest-working man in show business released 59 studio albums, 49 compilations (usually called Greatest Hits), and 144 singles.

My favourite James Brown story is when he heard Bootsy Collins play a bass line in sound check, James looked at him and said: Sounds like a James Brown bass line to me.

Bootsy didn’t get any royalties, but did he care? No chance, he was just happy he was playing for James Brown, and who wouldn’t be?!?

James Brown Tunes | Related Pages

The Chicken

You can learn how to play The Chicken by Jaco Pastorius and Pee Wee Ellis using chords, chord analysis, and the original recordings.

Bb7 (Em7b5 Dm7b5) | Bb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |

For Once In My Life

For Once In My Life chords

You can learn how to play For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.

F Faug | F6 D7b9/F# | 
For once in my life, I have someone who needs me…

Hold On, I’m Comin’

Hold On I'm Coming chords

You can learn how to play Hold On, I’m Comin’ by Sam & Dave using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.

Ab7 | Ab7 | Ab7 | Ab7 |
Don’t you ever, be sad. Lean on me, when the times are bad…

I Feel Good

I Feel Good chords

You can learn how to play I Feel Good by James Brown using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.

N.C | D7 | D7 | D7 | D7 |
Whoa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now…

Love Me Tender

Love Me Tender chords

You can learn how to play Love Me Tender by Elvis using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.

D D/A | E7 E7/B | A7 | D D/A |
Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go…

James Brown on the web

Listen to James Brown on Spotify.


Artist and Band biographies

Behind every single tune you learn, there’s an artist or band with an entire catalogue of music, waiting to be discovered.

Find out more about these great women and men, and let their tunes guide you to success with these Artist & Band biographies.

About me

About Me Dan Lundholm T

This article about James Brown tunes was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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