Rewinding The Charts: In 1965, James Brown's 'I Feel Good' Did Real Good on the Charts

James Brown teaching talk show host Johnny Carson how to dance.
Arthur Schatz/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

James Brown teaching talk show host Johnny Carson how to dance.  

Godfather of Soul James Brown scored his biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1965.

In remembrance of James Brown, the legendary Godfather of Soul, who died ten years ago today - on Dec. 25, 2006 - of congestive heart failure at age 73, Billboard revisits his highest-peaking Hot 100 hit and one of his many classic funk hits, "I Got You (I Feel Good)."


“WHENEVER I SEE A FROZEN POND, I take myself to 1967 when us kids did the James Brown ‘I Feel Good’ dance on any patch of ice,” Public Enemy’s Chuck D told Billboard after learning of the Godfather of Soul’s 2006 death. He was referring to Brown’s classic, “I Got You (I Feel Good),” his third No. 1 on the Top Selling Rhythm & Blues Singles chart (forerunner of Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) dated Dec. 4, 1965. Two weeks later, the song rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Brown’s highest-peaking of a whopping 91 entries on the chart.

Born in 1933 and raised in Augusta, Ga., the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” as he was also called, dominated pop and R&B with a greasy mix of soul and funk, while his signature rapid-fire dance steps, splits and spins, inspired Michael Jackson and Prince.

From 1959 to 1974, Brown topped the R&B singles chart 17 times and, at his performing peak, toured 335 nights a year. But by the late ‘70s, disco’s polished beats had eclipsed his gritty sound and disputes with the IRS had eroded his business empire. In the late 1980s, he served 15 months in prison after being convicted of assaulting a police officer and other charges, and through the early 2000s was arrested repeatedly for domestic violence.

Brown still managed a final run of hits and honors beginning with 1986’s “Living in America” from Rocky IV, his final Hot 100 top 10 (which reached No. 4) and first since 1968. He was among the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in 1986, received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement 1992 and claimed Kennedy Center honors in 2002. He performed until his death from congestive heart failure on Christmas Day in 2006 and is survived by his fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie, and nine children. 

A version of this article appeared in the Dec. 10 issue of Billboard magazine.


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