The unrelenting intensity of James Brown's music has made him one of the most recognizable and influential performers since the 1950s. Starting out as a gospel singer, Brown soon switched to R&B and started scoring hits. As the '60s progressed, the self-proclaimed Godfather of Soul transformed the sounds of R&B into a tight, driving style that helped lay the foundations of funk. Personal troubles over the following decades threatened to sideline the ever-impassioned Brown, but he repeatedly bounced back. Countless JB samples--credited and uncredited--found on rap and hip-hop records testify to his enduring influence. The Godfather of Soul passed away on Christmas Day in 2006.