One of the greats doesn’t even begin to come close. He was wilder and weirder and smarter and more driven and totally uncompromising. He said it very, very, very loud that he was black and he was damn proud. He practically taught popular music that there was a lot more than 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures. (OK, this is a gross overstatement, but Mr. Brown deserves an overstatement or two just to come close to the truth.)
“He was an innovator, he was an emancipator, he was an originator. Rap music, all that stuff came from James Brown.” — Little Richard
In addition to his incredible, boundary-shattering skills as a composer and musician he was one of the greatest performers ever. Live at the Apollo is one of the all time most amazing performances ever recorded. (Boing Boing has links to some great videos of him burning down the house.) His bands were where George Clinton and others honed their craft before the great funk explosion of the 70s (and yes, that is different than disco). Another way to know how great Mr. Brown remains is the number of artists who are still stealing and/or sampling what he did.
I feel bad.
Cuz I ain’t got you.