The concept of “resting in peace” hasn’t applied to James Brown. In the six months following his death on Christmas Day in 2006, the iconic soul singer’s family immediately launched into an ugly battle over his estate, prompting his body to be moved 14 times.
Tomi Rae, Brown’s widow and the mother of their 13-year-old son James Brown, Jr., sat down with Mail Online for an in-depth and eye-popping glimpse into what life after The Godfather of Soul has entailed. For lack of a better description, it’s been hell.
With family members and children (legit and otherwise) filing lawsuit after lawsuit and countersuit after countersuit, Rae concedes fighting for her husband’s estate will likely carry on for years.
“My husband was a prolific womanizer,” Rae said. “There are the children we know about but there are more and more people coming out of the woodwork claiming to be his. They are doing DNA testing all the time.”
It’s the DNA testing where perhaps the feature’s most jarring detail is revealed.
Tomi Rae was just 25 when she became Brown’s backing singer. The genius behind hits including I Feel Good and Sex Machine was 64 and already three times divorced.
The pair wed in December 2001, when son James Jnr was six months old. But after Brown died, his other children – there are at least six and up to as many as nine, depending on who you believe (the number keeps rising as others come forward claiming he was their father) – challenged James Jnr’s legitimacy, claiming Brown had undergone a vasectomy in the 1980s.
A judge ordered a DNA test which confirmed Brown was James Jnr’s father. Tomi Rae’s eyes welled up as she recalled the episode: ‘They couldn’t do the normal DNA test because of all the embalming fluid in his body. So they had to cut off his legs to get to his bone marrow. I wept uncontrollably when I found out. My husband, the greatest dancer in the world, had his legs hacked off in death.’
In all seriousness, the piece is worth checking out, even if it is just one side of a story containing multiple accounts. Rae also goes on to say she believes her late husband was murdered with a lethal combination of drugs because “people always wanted to party with James and keep him high.”
Rae and her son currently live in Las Vegas where she works as a Janis Joplin impersonator. “I’ve been forced to busk on the streets at times to make ends meet,” she said. “I’m broke.”