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James Brown Would Have Turned 88 – a Glimpse inside the 'Godfather of Soul's Love Life

Pedro Marrero
May 03, 2021
08:20 A.M.
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Renowned for being one of the most prolific and talented R&B and soul songwriters and father of funk, Brown was always followed by the media, not only for his achievements in his musical career but for the relationships he had with women as well.  


American soul, funk, and rock singer, James Joseph Brown, was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, in May 1933. His unique style in music, which combined the sound of the gospel with the tones of R&B spread throughout the planet.

However, his love life was often filled with domestic violence accusations and divorce procedures. During his life, he married four times and had nine children. At the time of his death, in December 2006, he asked for his fortune to be invested in his children’s education. To date, his last wish has not been fulfilled.

James Brown performs on stage at the Live 8 Edinburgh concert at Murrayfield Stadium on July 6, 2005 in Edinburgh, Scotland. I Image: Getty Images.



Brown's first wife was Velma Warren, who is actually the least known of his wives. The couple married in 1953 and had three children. They were together for 16 years until they divorce in 1969. After their split, they both remained friends even until Brown’s death.

A year later, in 1970, Brown married his second and best-known wife, Deidre "Dee Dee" Jenkins. Since their relationship was more public, some of the troubles they had and Brown's abusive behavior towards his wife, were revealed in the movie "Get on Up.” 

During their time together, the couple had two daughters. After nine years of an unstable and violent marriage, Brown and Jenkins split in 1979, and finally obtained their divorce papers in 1981.



A few years later, Brown met Adrienne Lois Rodriguez and went on to marry her in 1984. His third marriage was also marked by rumors of domestic abuse. Rodríguez and Brown, however, never divorced.

According to Southwick, she was initially included and appointed executor of King’s estate.

Their marriage ended when she died in 1996, under circumstances that are still unclear to some of her loved ones. Tomi Rae Hynie was a background singer for Brown, and a couple of years after Rodriguez's death, they both began to date. The couple held an intimate wedding ceremony in 2002.



Hynie was a Las Vegas impersonator before becoming a backup singer. Moreover, she was already a married woman to Javed Ahmed at the time of her union with the singer. In a twisted turn of events, Ahmed was also already married to three other women.

According to Hynie, her spouse disappeared after their marriage and was only after becoming a US citizen. Everything was kept under the wraps. However, when Brown died in 2006, many questions arose about the validity of his marriage to Hynie.

Before his death, Brown and Hynie had marital problems that moved the singer to file for annulment. Meanwhile, she countersued for divorce. The confusion about their marriage was never settled then.



South Carolina attorney general Governor Henry McMaster facilitated the dispute in 2009. A year before, some of the star's belongings were auctioned for nearly a million dollars to pay off debt.

After several years of research and legal battles for Brown's $100 million estate, the South Carolina Supreme Court recently declared that Hynie's marriage to Brown was not legal.


It has been more than a decade since the "Godfather of Soul" passed away, and it seems that all the trouble regarding his heritage is closer to an end with settlements set in place.


After years of litigation over copyright, bigamy fights, DNA paternity tests and millions of dollars in song royalties, the final resolution begins to become more clear with the recent ruling on his last marriage. 

Some questions are still unsolved on Brown's death, as there are people close to him who doubt the official version of the story that has been told. There is still a long way to go, while Brown's musical legacy and its weight within American culture remain.

Legal problems often arise after a wealthy person’s death. Recently, Larry King’s estranged wife, Shawn Southwick, also questioned her late husband’s last will after she was excluded. According to Southwick, she was initially included and appointed executor of King’s estate.