News Flash: James Brown Hospitalized; May Be Addicted To Painkillers

AIKEN, South Carolina -- Funk master James Brown, 64, has been hospitalized by his family who are concerned about his health and a possible addiction to painkillers, according to an Augusta Chronicle report published Friday.

"He's had a problem with his back, and I don't want to say anything out of place, but he

may have gotten addicted to painkillers for his pain in his back," Brown's agent, Jeff Allen, was quoted in the Chronicle as saying. "That's about all this boils down to, an addiction to painkillers."

Aiken County sheriff's deputies arrived at Brown's Beech Island home, which is near Augusta, on Thursday, took him into custody, and delivered him to the emergency room of the Aiken Regional Medical Center for evaluation, according to the Chronicle. The case was reportedly listed as a "mental transport" in the sheriff's report.

Brown was subsequently admitted to a Columbia-area hospital according to Aiken County Sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank. Members of Brown's family had contacted the Aiken County Probate Court after becoming "very concerned about his health," Lt. Frank told the Chronicle.

At Brown's home deputies confiscated a .30-caliber rifle and a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun for safekeeping, according to the sheriff's report. Brown was not charged. Brown's long-time attorney, Albert "Buddy" Dallas, downplayed the incident, saying only that Brown was now taking a "long, well-deserved rest. He's been touring for the past five years."

Brown, a living legend who helped define the R &B, soul and funk musical genres, and who has during the past decade or so been sampled innumerable times by rap and hip-hop artists, has had drug-related problems in the past. He served two years in a South Carolina prison between 1989 and 1991 for aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police officer. Drug tests following a 1988 two-state chase had showed that Brown had been under the influence of the hallucinogen PCP, known on the street as Angel Dust.

In 1995 Brown admitted that he and his late wife, Adrienne Brown, who died in January 1996, had had a drug problem. The Browns relationship could only be described as volatile. The soul star had at one point riddled a wall of their bedroom with bullets, and on another occasion threw his wife's fur coat on the driveway outside the house and fired shots into it.

Brown began recording in the mid-'50s, and scored his first top-10 hit in 1956, with the now classic "Please, Please, Please." During the late '50s, '60s and early '70s, his star was ascendant. He became known as the "hardest working man in show business" and the "Godfather of Soul," touring year-round and racking up such major hits as "Night Train," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," "Cold Sweat," "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing" and many more. His last major hit, "Living In America," which appeared on the "Rocky IV" soundtrack, came in 1985. -- Michael Goldberg [Sat., Jan. 17, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]