I got the call last week I didn't expect to get. The Godfather of Soul was in trouble again. The call came from Karen, a reporter at the Aiken Standard, the paper where I worked for more than a year.
"James Brown has been arrested again," she said, without preliminaries.
"You're kidding?" was my idiotic response. She was not. "For what?"
"Domestic violence," she said.
"Yeah, he's in the Aiken Detention Center," she said.
"Well, I don't guess he feels good now, does he?"
Karen wanted to know the last time I had written about him and where she could get that information. I also gave her names of local folks who might have a comment to make about him, including a state representative who supported his pardon last year. That's right, less than a year ago, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford pardoned Brown of all crimes he was convicted of in that state.
If you didn't know, James Brown lives in Aiken County, in Beech Island, a small municipality that is neither a beach nor an island. I never found anyone who knew why it was referred to as an island. Anyway, the last time I wrote about him, his Cadillac was being repossessed.
It was around the time the city of Augusta renamed a street in his honor. I think I wrote that he wouldn't be driving the Cadillac down the street named for him because it was being repossessed. I tried to contact James but the only number we had for him stayed busy for hours. He never called after the story came out either, which disappointed me. I would love to have talked to him.
He did call the news office when I wrote about his pardon. I wasn't in yet so he talked to someone else. He was complaining about a reference made to him being able to vote again since he was no longer considered a convicted felon. He took issue with that, saying that he had always been able to vote. I don't see how a convicted felon was able to retain his voting rights but he is James Brown so maybe he did whatever he wanted to do.
I lived a lot of my life in Macon, where James Brown had also lived, along with Little Richard, Gregg Allman and members of the Allman Brothers Band. When Gregg Allman was married to Cher, I spotted a limo in traffic with plates that read "CHER," and my husband saw her out shopping once. It was no big deal.
So living in the same town as the Godfather of Soul was no big deal to residents there either. Walter "Refrigerator" Perry lives there, too. I could not tell you who he played for but I know he was a football player. He lives on Highway 19, in a huge brick house, surrounded by a huge brick fence between a cemetery and a trailer park. I always thought that was funny.
I think a man of James Brown's age, in his 70s, should stay out of trouble. He could be bouncing grandchildren on his knee maybe if he wasn't also fighting with his daughters over royalties. I covered a child molestation trial where one of his daughters was introduced as an expert witness. It was bizarre.
She took the stand and was identified by name. I didn't pay any attention to the last name because Brown is common. Anyway, the case was bizarre in itself. A woman accused her father of having sex with her since she was a child. The relationship continued into her adulthood. He videotaped it. There was a question of her age at the time of the last incident so the prosecutors used various methods to "date" the video. For example, the bed shown was bought at a certain time and the dog shown was acquired at a certain time.
There was also music playing in the background, from a radio station. While the defense argued that the woman was older in the video and therefore simply having a consensual affair with her father as opposed to being a minor being abused the prosecution argued against that notion.
So the defense brought in this "expert" witness to testify about when the song that is heard on the radio was released. She told the court that she qualified as a music expert because she is a deejay at a radio station.
"What else qualifies you as an expert on music?" the defense attorney asked.
"My father is James Brown," she answered. Turned out she was one of the daughters who is suing him over royalties.
I told you. Bizarre. By the way, the defense lost. Dad went to prison. Guess that Papa's got a brand new bag now.
Kathy Jefcoats is the public safety reporter for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.