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Thomas Lake dives into a deep and murky mystery: Was James Brown murdered?

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, grew up from poverty in Georgia to become one of the biggest-selling and most influential musicians in history.

Thomas Lake

Brown died on Christmas Day 2006. His last years were tangled up in accusations of assaulting his wives and abusing drugs.

The official cause of death was a heart attack. But some people who knew Brown well suspect that there’s more to the story. They think he was murdered.

I have to be honest—the true-crime, celebrity-murder story is normally not my thing. But Thomas Lake, and the work he’s done over the years as a reporter and writer … that is my thing.

Thomas, who now works for CNN, has spent the last five years investigating Brown’s death—and the 1996 death of Brown’s third wife, Adrienne.

Lake wrote a story about the case in 2019, and has dived back into it with a new podcast called “The James Brown Mystery.”

Thomas and I talk about how the James Brown story ended up in his lap, what it’s like to dive deep into the rabbit hole of an investigation, and how his faith keeps him going in the search for truth.

Other music in this episode (all by James Brown)

  • "Cold Sweat"
  • "The Payback"
  • Super Bad"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.