James Brown was known for a lot of things, but sanity wasn’t one of them. The Godfather of Soul, Founding Father of Funk and Progenitor of Hip-Hop was also certifiably crazy.
James Brown’s habit for completely losing his shit landed him in the back of a police car on no fewer than a dozen occasions. But it was an incident in 1988 that stands out among them.
James Brown Gets Territorial
In the late ‘80s, Brown’s status as a legend was already assured. His reputation as a nutbar was about to take a huge leap forward. The interview here, which followed an arrest on weapons and drug charges in May of 1988, gives you a pretty good compass on Brown’s mental state at the time.
Still, the interview would pale in comparison to what came next.
James Brown’s Breakfast of Champions
On September 24th, 1988, a group of insurance salesmen gathered for a seminar in an Augusta, Georgia conference room adjoining James Brown’s personal office. Brown was at home ingesting a highly hallucinogenic breakfast of cocaine and PCPs (which, for some reason, I want to call Crunchberry).
Insurance Agents Botch the Risk Calculation
In Brown’s absence, a few sloppy insurance agents made the poor decision to use Mr. Dynamite’s personal toilet.
Upon arriving for a day’s work (which we presume largely involved speaking loudly about himself in the third person and groping his employees), Brown conducted a preliminary forensic sweep of the area and decided that his crapier had been violated.
Consequently, a raving and disheveled James Brown burst into the seminar brandishing a shotgun and demanding satisfaction. Needless to say, nobody stepped forward. Somebody did, however, dial 911.
The Big Payback
James Brown departed in his pickup truck, crossed the state line into South Carolina, and was confronted by six police cars. According to Brown’s report of the incident (the reliability of which is a matter of some debate) officers immediately opened fire on his truck, peppering the vehicle with 23 bullet holes and blowing out all four tires.
Fearing for his life, Brown sped away on the hobbled vehicle, leading officers on a 30-minute high speed chase that crossed back over the Georgia line and only ended when Brown careened into a ditch. Never one to go down without a fight, the Hardest Working Man In Showbiz could be subdued by no fewer than 20 officers.
James Brown Gets a Communal Toilet and a Cellmate
Brown was sentenced to 6 years in prison, 2 of which he served in the State Park Correctional Facility in South Carolina before his release on February 27th, 1991.
As to whether his hard time reformed James Brown…it did not. Between his release from prison and his death in 2006, he would have at least half a dozen more brushes with the law including, get this, a weapons charge followed by a high-speed chase with police officers.
Of course, the big lesson here is please, please, please, don’t crap in James Brown’s toilet…