He gained fame for his anthem "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and Rolling Stone ranked him seventh on their list of its 100 greatest artists of all time.
He lived with his aunt who was a madam at a brothel, and after being released from prison for robbery, he became a gospel singer.
Known as "The Godfather of Soul," he became a social voice with the 1968 hit, "Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud."
He got married to Velma Warren on June 19, 1953, then to Deidre Jenkins on October 22, 1970, then to Adrienne Rodriguez in 1984, and finally to Tomirae Brown on December 14, 2001.
He helped to found American funk music and inspired future musicians such as Herbie Hancock.
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