James Brown’s bassist dies at 80 – .

“Sweet” Charles Sherrell was a bassist in James Brown’s (1933–2006) band in the late 1960s and early 1970s, playing on hits including “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud.” 

“Sweet” Charles Sherrell’s legacy 

Sherrell played bass in Aretha Franklin’s (1942–2018) band for a brief period before joining the JBs, Brown’s backing band, in 1968, just as Brown’s sound was evolving from his early R&B to the funk music he helped shape. Sherrell’s bass was an integral and influential part of that style. He pioneered thumping on bass strings, a foundational funk technique later used by other bassists like Bootsy Collins. Though Sherrell only stayed with the JBs through 1970, he was a part of some of Brown’s most memorable recordings, including the No. 1 hits “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud,” “Give it Up or Turnit a Loose,” and “Mother Popcorn.”  

After leaving the JBs, Sherrell released one solo album, 1974’s “For Sweet People from Sweet Charles.” He returned to the JBs in the mid-1970s, serving as the band’s music director. Sherrell also played bass with other musicians including Al Green and Maceo Parker.   

Tributes to “Sweet” Charles Sherrell 

Full obituary: Soul Tracks 

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