Less than one week after he was released from a hospital where he was
undergoing treatment for an addiction to painkillers, soul singer James
Brown was arrested on charges of marijuana possession and unlawful use of a
"We called him yesterday morning and he agreed to turn himself in at 2
p.m.," said Lt. Michael Frank, public information officer for the Aiken
County Sheriff's Office. Brown was charged with two counts of unlawful use
of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
and with simple possession (less than one ounce) of marijuana.
Brown, 64, was released on bond. A court date for the singer is not yet
Brown was taken to a Columbia, S.C., hospital on Jan. 15 by deputies armed
with a Probate Court order, after family members became concerned for his
health. The writer and performer of such landmark hits as "I Got You
(I Feel Good)" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" injured his back during a
recent performance in Florida and began taking medication to relieve the
physical suffering, according to his agent, Jeff Allen. Brown was released on Jan. 21.
The singer's court-ordered hospitalization led to the filing of Tuesday's
"Back when the deputies served Probate papers to Mr. Brown, they saw a
couple of weapons as well as the small amount of marijuana," Frank said.
Deputies also observed a number of spent gun shells. Among the items
confiscated from Brown's Beech Island, S.C., home were a .30-caliber rifle
and a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
Frank would not say what led police to believe that the weapons had been
fired while Brown was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. "That's
something that would come out in court," he said.
Jack Bart, a spokesman for Brown's New York agent, Universal Attractions,
said on Wednesday that he was not aware of the charges. Asked if the
singer is still planning to mount a recently announced world tour, Bart
Representatives from James Brown Enterprises were
unavailable for comment.
Beginning in 1956, Brown forged a career that not only resulted in two
decades of hit songs, but also helped establish the foundations of soul and
funk music. In the 1960s, the singer mixed socially conscious songs such
as "Say It Loud -- I'm Black And I'm Proud" and "Don't Be A Drop Out" in
with groove-laden dance smashes such as "Out Of Sight" and "Cold Sweat."
Brown's early '70s work set the stage for the hip-hop revolution to come.
In the '80s and '90s, his music has been among the most-sampled by rap
Brown's arrest on Tuesday was only one of a string of run-ins with the law. In 1988,
he led police on a two-state car chase; drug tests afterward found Brown to
be under the influence of the drug PCP, also known as angel dust -- that incident resulted in a prison term. From 1989-91, the singer spent two years in a South Carolina prison
for aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police officer.
Also in 1988, Brown's fourth wife, Adrienne, alleged Brown had beaten her and
filed charges of assault with intent to murder and aggravated assault and
battery. The charges were later dropped. Adrienne Brown died in 1996. [Wed., Jan. 28, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]