‘Lost Someone’: James Brown’s Amazing Ascent Continues

With 1961’s ‘Lost Someone,’ Brown took another step towards becoming one of the greatest soul performers of all time.

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James Brown artwork: UMG
James Brown artwork: UMG

In the early years that helped create the legend of the Godfather of Soul, the career of James Brown as a hitmaker was somewhat fitful. He made a sensational start to his chart resumé as early as 1956, just before his 23rd birthday, with the future classic and Grammy Hall of Fame Award winner “Please, Please, Please.” But at a time of severely restricted crossover opportunities for R&B stars, that song failed even to make the Billboard pop Top 100.

When “Try Me” went No.1 R&B in 1958, it stopped short of the pop Top 40. It would be 1963 before Brown cracked even the Top 20 of the pop countdown, with the ballad “Prisoner Of Love.” But on December 18, 1961, he took another step towards becoming one of the greatest soul performers of all time when the slow-burning ballad “Lost Someone” made its R&B chart debut.

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Brown wrote the track with his longtime collaborator Bobby Byrd and another member of his Famous Flames group, “Baby Lloyd” Stallworth. Laden with slinky horns, Les Buie’s guitar, Byrd’s organ, and JB’s ever-passionate lead vocals, it was recorded at King Studios in February of that year.

“Lost Someone” became a focal point of Brown’s celebrated live performances, and indeed was central to the 1963 album that took his notoriety to a new plateau, Live At The Apollo. As a single on King, it followed the relatively modest Top 20 R&B entry “Just You And Me, Darling.” But that came after three major Top 10 soul hits inside six months of 1961, “Bewildered,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “Baby, You’re Right.”

Listen to the best of James Brown on Apple Music and Spotify

As a measure of the expectation surrounding a new single among his fans by then, “Lost Someone” was the highest new entry of the week on Hot R&B Sides at No.20, four places higher than Ray Charles’ “Unchain My Heart.” It entered the Hot 100 the same day, at a mere No.96, and only ever made No.48 on the pop side. But the song became yet another R&B smash, climbing to runner-up spot in the new year, as James Brown continued his amazing ascent.

Buy or stream “Lost Someone” on The Amazing James Brown.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Annette Powell Williams

    December 20, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    I love some James Brown. He is my favorite artist of all time.

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