A massively influential figure, James Brown is remembered as the undisputed "godfather of soul", his mix of frantic African rhythms with raw rock inspired generations of funk, soul, rock and R&B artists. Born in America's Deep South in the Depression era, Brown was brought up in extreme poverty, raised by an aunt who ran a brothel. Dropping out of school, he polished shoes, washed dishes, swept stores and, inspired by Louis Jordan, entered talent contests playing harmonica. At 16 Brown was convicted of armed robbery and sent to a reform school, where he put on a show witnessed by musician/producer Bobby Byrd, who arranged his early release and invited him to join his R&B group, The Avons (later The Flames), who had their first hit in 1956 with Please Please Me. Heavily influenced by Little Richard, Brown developed his own distinctively theatrical style, charting in 1959 with Try Me, the first of 17 chart-topping R&B singles over the next two decades. Other major hits included Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good) and It's A Man's Man's Man's World. Despite continuing brushes with the law, he remained an extraordinary live performer right up to his death in 2006.