6 MORE Songs You Didn’t Know James Brown Wrote for Other Artists

Taking soul onto the R&B charts, James Brown helped push the genre further into the mainstream by the mid-1960s with his first No. 1 hit, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” which earned him his first Grammy award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording, followed by another chart-topping hit, “I Got You,” which hit the R&B and pop charts.

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Shifting from Soul Brother No. 1 to the Godfather of Soul by the late 1960s, Brown’s hits continued with “I Got the Feelin’,” “Give It Up or Turnit A Loose,” “My Thang,” “Get Up Offa That Thing,” “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” before pulling back from his songwriting duties in the late ’70s. 

Nevertheless, Brown left an indelible mark on soul, funk, and music in between. Along with the songs he wrote within his various bands, including the J.B.’s and the James Brown Revue, and throughout his solo career, he also penned a lengthy amount of tracks for outside acts.

In 2022, American Songwriter took a look at several songs Brown wrote for other artists. Here are six more of these songs written by the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, throughout the 1960s and ’70s.

1. “Baby, Baby, Baby,” Anna King and Bobby Byrd (1964)
Written by James Brown

Anna King was a gospel and soul singer who performed with a number of artists throughout the 1960s from playing with Duke Ellington and touring with The Shirelles and joining the James Brown Revue in 1964. Working with Brown, she recorded “Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own,” an answer to Brown’s hit “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” along with a number of other songs.

In 1963, King also she signed as a solo artist and released “If Somebody Told You,” a song written and produced by Brown that reached No. 10 on the R&B chart. In 1964, Brown also penned the duet, “Baby, Baby, Baby,” for King with his longtime collaborator Bobby Byrd.

2. “What Do I Have to Do to Prove My Love to You,” Marva Whitney (1968)
Written by James Brown

Often referred to as Soul Sister #1, Marva Whitney was one of James Brown’s “Original Funky Divas” and sang in the James Brown Revue from 1967 through 1969. She later released an album, It’s My Thing, which was produced and mostly written by Brown, including the title track, which she also co-wrote.

Brown and Whitney also co-wrote her single “What Do I Have to Do to Prove My Love to You,” released in 1968.

3. “The Message from the Soul Sisters,” Myra Barnes (1970)
Written by James Brown

Known as the “Queen” of the James Brown Soul Revue, Myra Barnes performed with his band, the J.B.’s, for three years in the early 1960s before she was replaced by Marva Whitney. Barnes also became known for her response songs, including “Super Good,” a response to Brown’s “Super Bad” and “I’m Too Tough for Mr. Big Stuff,” an answer to Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff.”

James Brown’s Funky People (Part 2), a 1970 collection of songs by his regular collaborators, features two tracks by Barnes—who went under the name Vicki Anderson—including the aforementioned “Super Good” and “The Message From the Soul Sisters (Pt. 1 & 2).”

4. “I Know You Got Soul,” Bobby Byrd (1971)
Written by James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Charles Bobbit

When Brown was incarcerated in juvenile detention as a teen, he earned his first nickname “guy called music box” and formed a gospel quartet with Bobby Byrd, who would become a longtime collaborator. Following his release, Brown continued singing gospel and joined Byrd’s group, The Famous Flames, in 1954, and wrote their first Top 10 hit (at No. 6) on the R&B chart, “Please, Please, Please.”

The duo wrote a number of songs together, including Brown’s “Get Up, Get into It, Get Involved” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.” Brown also wrote several songs for Byrd in the ’70s, including “Hot Pants – I’m Coming, Coming, I’m Coming” and “I Know You Got Soul,” both released in 1971.

5. “Mama Feelgood,” Lyn Collins (1973)
Written by James Brown and Lyn Collins

By the 1970s, Brown had written and produced several songs for Lyn Collins, including “Think (About It),” which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart. The song became popular for its it takes two to make a thing go right refrain, which has been sampled more than 3,000 times, including for the 1988 hip-hop hit “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock.

Brown wrote several more songs for Collins, including “Mama Feelgood,” released in 1973, and “Rock Me Again & Again & Again & Again & Again & Again”—later covered by The Human League in 1984—and her 1975 single, “You Can’t Love Me If You Don’t Respect Me.”

6. “Parrty,” Maceo and the Macks (1974)
Written by James Brown

A regular on-and-off member of Brown’s band, Maceo Parker first left to form his own group in 1970. In January 1973, Parker rejoined Brown’s band and released the single “Parrty – Part I” with Maceo and the Macks that year. Parker and some of Brown’s band members left again in 1975 to join George Clinton‘s band Parliament-Funkadelic, and from 1984 through 1988, Parker rejoined Brown once again.

By the 1990s, Parker began releasing music under his own name and was collaborating with Prince, De La Soul, Jane’s Addiction, and Dave Matthews Band, among others.

“It’s like if I’m a swimmer or a diver, it’s my springboard,” said Parker of his time working with Brown in 2016. “And I always will give a salute to James Brown because that’s what launched my career. He may not have known then that he was opening the door for me. He might not have realized the snowball effect, but when he started calling my name, first of all recognizing that I had something to say with the saxophone when it was time to say it, and then using it, and then calling my name on a lot of the recordings, that’s what really did it.”

Parker continued, “All over the world, there were people imitating James Brown. Every family, somebody swore they could dance like James Brown. And then during the routine, they would call, ‘Come on Maceo.’ Eddie Murphy did it on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I always wanted to have my own thing and have my name on the marquee, and thanks to James Brown I was able to do that.”

Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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