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My Father the Godfather

The cover of "My Father the Godfather," a collection of stories about James Brown compiled by his son, Daryl Brown, and Dr. Michael Chabries. Daryl will visit Downtown Books & Coffee in Auburn Aug. 5 to take questions and perform some music.


As you probably already know (at least we hope you do!), Downtown Books & Coffee is hosting a very exciting book event at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5. Daryl Brown, son of music legend James Brown, will be here to sign copies of his book about his father, a Q-and-A, and a musical performance. We could not be more excited. The theatrical release of "Get On Up" (the James Brown story) was Aug. 1, so this couldn't have worked out better timing-wise. James Brown is everywhere right now, and if you want to get the true story, you need to stop in Aug. 5 and get a copy of “My Father the Godfather” by Daryl Brown.

I have been reading a lot of fiction lately, and it was nice change-up to get back into a book that is nonfiction. How others live their lives has always fascinated me — well, depending on who it is, I guess. James Brown led a very crazy life — the kind of life that would fascinate anyone. What I really enjoyed about this book is that Daryl did not hold anything back. The best of times are in these pages, but he made sure the rough times are there, as well. I have read some biographies in the past where you could tell that there was a lot of self-serving involved, and not as much truth.

The writing style of this book is another aspect that I really enjoyed. It is not conventional by any means, but for this type of book I feel it is the most effective. Daryl let the people who knew his father best tell their memories of James Brown. There are things that some people would not know about their dad, so Daryl made sure that the people who did were able to write that part of the book. One great example of this is the parts about his wife at the time of his death. There are a lot of negative stories about her, but he also let her write a few pages to give her perspective. Again, not the norm for book writing, but as the reader I enjoyed being able to read both sides.

His childhood and his funeral were the two parts of this book that I found most interesting. I had no idea how rough his upbringing was. It is remarkable he was able to get to the level he did considering where he came from. He clearly had a ton of talent, but nobody worked harder to make it than James Brown.

There are quite a few interesting stories from his funeral. Michael Jackson was a good friend of James Brown, and came back from exile to be there. There is a story in there about Jackson wanting to be left alone with the body which led to him curling James Brown’s hair. Just reading the descriptions of Jackson by Brown’s personal driver William Murrell was pretty interesting, to say the least: “I was really scared of him. I’m serious, man. If you looked at him, he doesn't look real. He doesn't look real at all. He looked just like a Frankenstein.”

I really enjoyed reading “My Father the Godfather." It is one of those books that you will read and then find yourself talking about to everyone that will listen to you. We have copies available now. Stop in and pick up a copy for yourself, and I hope to see you all Aug. 5 to meet Daryl Brown and get a book signed!

John Colvin is the manager of Downtown Books & Coffee, 66 Genesee St., Auburn, and can be reached at (315) 515-3411 or


Features editor for The Citizen.