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Week in Rock History: James Brown Dies

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December 31, 2000/2003: Chris Robinson marries Kate Hudson and Natalie Imbruglia marries Daniel Johns (respectively)
New Year’s Eve bred romance for two pairs of rock royalty. In 2000, Chris Robinson, frontman of the blues-rockers the Black Crowes, married actress Kate Hudson in Aspen, Colorado. They rang out a pivotal year in Hudson’s career: she had just starred as Penny Lane in Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe’s heartwarming ode to music journalism, for which she would soon receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The role was a clear union of her genetic gifts: mother Goldie Hawn was an Academy Award-winning actress herself, and father Bill Hudson was a rock musician.

Three years later, two Australian music celebrities wed on the same night. Soap actress turned singer-songwriter Natalie Imbruglia, who hit international fame with her 1977 cover of the Ednaswap song “Torn,” married Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns in a beachside ceremony in Port Douglas, Queensland. John was a notable young talent himself; though Silverchair were once derided for their similarities to Nirvana, Johns earned a spot in Rolling Stone’s list of the 25 Most Underrated Guitarists.

Sadly, both couples have since divorced, but at least they rang in the New Year in style.

December 25, 2006: James Brown dies after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia
The Godfather of Soul led one of the most eventful lives in pop history: he was arrested for theft as a teenager, married four times, was involved in a much-reported high-speed car chase in the 1980s, spent years in prison, stole the show from the Rolling Stones (and any other artists who dared cross his stage), and pioneered funk music. His vivacious, inexhaustible charisma made him one of the greatest live performers of all time, as seen in his legendary T.A.M.I. Show set of 1964.

Brown got his start in show business in the mid-1950s with a R&B singing group called the Gospel Starlighters; the group changed their named to the Flames and scored a hit with track "Please, Please, Please" in 1956. Brown’s self-financed live LP, 1963’s Live at the Apollo, made him an international star; in the 1960s, he released two of his signature funk tunes, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good),” winning a Grammy for the former. His career vacillated from highs to lows, from being one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 to serving a prison term in same decade.

Brown died in Atlanta on Christmas Day 2006, from severe pneumonia. He was 73.



LAST WEEK: Nikki Sixx Declared Dead for Two Minutes

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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