Two of James Brown’s nine children have released memoirs with explosive — and in one case unsubstantiated — claims about the late soul singer. In Cold Sweat, Brown’s daughter Yamma Brown recounts his domestic abuse against her mother, Diedre “Dee Dee” Jenkins, whom he married in 1970 and divorced a decade later.
Although it’s no secret that the performer was physically abusive, his daughter’s eyewitness account gives a more graphic detail of the violence. “The beatings always begin the same way, with the same terrible sounds. My parents are in their bedroom, behind closed doors,” Yamma writes, according to an excerpt from Vulture. “First comes the boom of my father’s voice. ‘Dee Dee! Goddamn it, Dee Dee!’ Then I hear what sounds like thunder rolling through the house. That’s Mom hitting the wall. I wait for her to scream, but she doesn’t. She whimpers. She must have learned long ago that screaming incites him. I swear that during those fights, I could feel the whole house shake with my father’s crazy rage. Whenever he’d start, my sister, Deanna, and I would run for cover, usually in a closet or under our beds, and cry quietly into our cupped hands.”
One particularly vicious incident involved Yamma watching him straddle Jenkins as he was “punching her with closed fists.”
“Blood spurted from my mother's face. She started thrashing around, kicking her legs, holding up her arms to ward off the punches and trying to break free, trying to save herself,” recalls the now mother of two. Even though she was only 5 years old at the time, Yamma jumped on her dad's back to try and pull him away from Jenkins.
Yamma is clear that her father never beat her or Deanna, “but sometimes I think a beating would have been less hurtful than hearing the sounds of him using my mother as a punching bag,” she writes.
She would later get into an abusive marriage with a man who she says wanted control of the music legend's estate. Yamma recalls, “It wasn’t until a decade later, when I was lying on the cold tile floor, with my head pounding and my vision blurred from being punched in the face, that I finally saw my marriage with absolute clarity, and I knew it was over.”
Her ex husband, Darren Lumar, has since passed away, which ties into the second memoir, penned by Yamma’s half brother, Daryl Brown. Daryl claims in Inside the Godfather that his father was murdered, and that Lumar’s 2008 shooting death was linked to the “Sex Machine” singer’s passing. Daryl says he has a “gut feeling” that members of his father’s inner circle killed him, despite any evidence substantiating the allegations.
Brown was 73 when he died of congestive heart failure brought on by pneumonia.
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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)