- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bobby Byrd, 73, musician

LOGANVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Bobby Byrd, longtime collaborator with the late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and co-founder of the Famous Flames, died Sept. 12. He was 73.

Mr. Byrd died at his home near Atlanta, according to the Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home. News accounts attributed Mr. Byrd’s death to cancer.

One of the chief architects of Mr. Brown’s trademark sound, Mr. Byrd’s contributions can be heard on early Brown soul tracks and on hits that laid the foundations of funk, such as “Get Up [I Feel Like Being A] Sex Machine.” The punctuating phrase “Get on up,” which repeats throughout that song, was sung by Mr. Byrd.

Mr. Brown, who was born and raised in poverty, was serving a sentence in a north Georgia reform school for breaking into cars when he met Mr. Byrd, and Mr. Byrd’s family arranged to take Mr. Brown into their home. Mr. Byrd also took Mr. Brown into his gospel group. Soon they changed their name to the Famous Flames and their style to hard R&B.

Mr. Byrd stayed with the Famous Flames, and the JBs after that, until 1973. Later, he had a string of modest R&B hits. Mr. Byrd performed in December at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga., during Mr. Brown’s memorial service.

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