On Saturday night, I was hanging out with some friends when we started talking about music legends we wanted to see while they were still alive. I talked about how Nancy and I saw Buck Owens play at his restaurant in Bakersfield less than a year before he died, and my companions said, “Have you seen James Brown? You gotta see James Brown.” James Brown had been on my must-see list for a while — at this moment, I can’t think of a more larger-than-life figure in the history of American music.
Well, I missed my chance to see him.
Several years ago, I used to spend time in Augusta, Georgia — James Brown’s hometown — and always loved how much the city embraced him despite his tawdry legal troubles. They still named a street after him (James Brown Boulevard) and eventually named the local civic center the James Brown Arena. I’m not sure if he was ever charged with any crimes in Georgia, but he was pardoned for his past crimes in South Carolina in 2003 and released a public statement:
God bless America on this beautiful day. I hope my pardon shows the youth that America is a beautiful country. I feel good!
James Brown helped make America a beautiful country. Rest in peace.