15 Things You Don’t Know About James Brown

We’re celebrating the birthday of the self-proclaimed “hardest-working man in show business” with some little-known facts.

James Brown performs at the HM Tower of London Festival of Music’s inaugural jazz-and-opera festival at HM Tower of London July 4, 2006.
James Brown performs at the HM Tower of London Festival of Music’s inaugural jazz-and-opera festival at HM Tower of London July 4, 2006. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

The biopic Get on Up, about the life of James Brown, will be released in August. On the occasion of his birthday, we are sharing some little-known facts about the Godfather of Soul.

1. James Joseph Brown Jr. was born May 3, 1933. His first name was actually supposed to be Joseph but was accidentally reversed on his birth certificate.

2. At the age of 6 he was sent to live with his aunt Honey Washington, who ran a brothel and sold moonshine for a living.

3. James Brown was once a cotton picker, coal scrounger and shoeshine boy. He also danced and sang to attract clients to his aunt’s place of business.

4. As a young man, he wanted to play professional baseball and be a professional boxer.

5. In 1992 a news anchor mistakenly reported him dead. The news inspired a song by L.A. Style.

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