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Brown, James (03 May 1933–25 December 2006), soul singer, dancer, songwriter, and bandleader, was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, the son of Joe Gardner, an itinerant laborer, and Susie Behling. In his first autobiography he explains that his father took the surname Brown from the woman who raised him, and he claims that his own name was James Joe Junior Brown, then James Joe Brown, Jr., and finally, James Brown. But his birth certificate gives Joseph James Brown. He was raised mainly by his father in a physically abusive relationship, and by his father’s aunt Minnie Walker. His mother was present intermittently, apparently driven away by his father’s beatings. This was a pattern that Brown himself would reproduce in countless relationships with women....

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Hayes, Isaac Lee, Jr. (20 August 1942–10 August 2008), soul singer, composer, keyboard player, and actor, was born in Covington, Tennessee, the son of Isaac Hayes, Sr. and Eula Wade. In Hayes’s infancy, his father abandoned the family and his mother died in a mental institution. He was raised by his grandparents, William and Rushia Wade, who were sharecroppers....

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Marley, Bob (06 February 1945–11 May 1981), musician and political activist, was born Robert Nesta Marley in Nine Miles, St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, the son of Norval Marley, a British army officer, and Cedella Malcolm. After Norval Marley abandoned his family, Bob Marley grew up in extreme poverty, moving between Nine Miles and Kingston, finally settling in the rough ghetto of Trench Town....