A Tribute to James Brown's Collaborator, Friend

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Musician Bobby Byrd — the funk and soul singer who worked for two decades with James Brown on many of the legendary singer's hits — died last week of lung cancer at age 73.

Mr. JAMES BROWN (Singer): What are you going to play now? Bobby?

Mr. BOBBY BYRD (Singer): I don't know. But whatever is played is got to be funky.

Mr. BROWN: Yeah.

Mr. BYRD: (Singing) One, two, three, make it funky.


If the Godfather of Soul had a godfather himself, it might be former band mate Bobby Byrd. After five decades in music, the Georgia native died last week from lung cancer. He was 73. Services for Byrd will be held tomorrow in Atlanta. In the early '50s, Byrd's family helped a young James Brown get out of juvenile detention. That freed Brown to jumpstart his funk career, and Byrd was right by his side when they formed The Famous Flames and later the J.B.'s.

Byrd works with James Brown for 20 years as part hype man, part sidekick. He even helped compose some of the godfather's timeless hits like "Sex Machine." That's him doing the call and response with Brown.

(Soundbite of song, "Sex Machine")

Mr. JAMES BROWN (Singer): (Singing) Get up.

Mr. BOBBY BYRD (Singer): (Singing) Get on up.

Mr. BROWN: (Singing) Stay on the scene.

Mr. BYRD: (Singing) Get on up.

Mr. BROWN: (Singing) Like a sex machine.

Mr. BYRD: (Singing) Get on up.

CHIDEYA: James Brown also lent Byrd a hand in producing Bobby's solo hit "I Know You Got Soul."

(Soundbite of song, "I Know You Got Soul")

Mr. BYRD: (Singing) You got it. You got it. You got it. You got it. I know you got soul. Hey, did you think you want to be hip?

CHIDEYA: Byrd split with Brown in 1973 and led a modest solo career for three decades. When James Brown died last year, Byrd sang at his funeral.

(Soundbite of song, "I Know You Got Soul")

Mr. BYRD: (Singing) I know you got soul.

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