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The Marriages of James Brown


Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

James Brown in Kinross, Scotland on July 9, 2005.

Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Although James Brown had a reputation for having a passion for control and a history of domestic abuse, Rolling Stones magazine wrote that James Brown was really abusing himself. Here's information about the four marriages of James Brown, his children, quotes about his wives and marriages, and more.

News Updates:

5/27/09: Tomi Rae and her son received about a quarter of Brown's estate, nearly half was given to charity, and nearly a quarter went to Brown's adult children.
Source: Howard Gensler. "Tattle: James Brown's estate is finally settled." Philly.com. 5/27/09.

3/12/2007: James Brown was finally placed in a crypt at the Beech Island home of one of his daughters, Deanna Brown Thomas. Deanna lives about three miles from her father's home.

Rev. Al Sharpton presided over the private noon service that incorporated the release of balloons, singing, and prayer. The family stated that after the legal battles over James Brown's estate were settled, a public mausoleum would be built for his final resting place.

2/9/2007: Tomi Rae Hynie was briefly allowed back into the home she once shared with James Brown. She was there to retrieve her belongings and those of her son.

2/2/2007: Tomi Rae Hynie filed a petition to receive half of James' estate and to be allowed back into his home.
Source: MSNBC.com

01/20/07: According to his lawyer, the body of James Brown was moved. The location was not revealed.

01/12/07: James' embalmed body lied in a sealed casket at his home in South Carolina due to controversy over where to bury him. His business partner claimed that Tomi Rae and her son were not in James' will.

12/26/06: Even after death, the drama in James' tumultuous marriage to Tomi Rae Hynie continued. Tomi Rae claimed that she was denied access to their Beech Island home.
Source: MSNBC.com


James Joseph Brown: May 3, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina.


James Brown: December 25, 2006 at the age of 73 of congestive heart failure in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been hospitalized with pneumonia. His long-time friend, Rev. Al Sharpton officiated at James' funeral service.

Marriages of James Brown:

James Brown was married four times:
  • Velma Warren: James and Velma met through his association with the Mount Zion Baptist Church. James and Velma were married on June 19, 1953 in the Trinity CME Church in Toccoa, Georgia. In 1969 Velma and James divorced.
  • Deidre (Deedee) Jenkins: Deidre was from Baltimore, Maryland. Deidre and James met in 1966, while he was on tour in Maryland. According to his autobiography, James and Deidre were married on the front porch of a probate judge in Barnwell on October 22, 1970. Deidre and James divorced on January 10, 1981.
  • Adrianne (Adrienne) Rodriguez: Born March 9, 1950. Adrienne and James met in 1981 when she was a hair stylist on the television show Solid Gold. Rev. Al Sharpton had dinner with them on their first date. Adrienne and James were married in 1984.

At times their marriage had problems and Adrienne charged James with felony assault four times. James denied the abuse. James and Adrienne separated in April 1994.

In June 1995, after a prescription drug overdose, Adrienne was in critical condition at a South Carolina hospital.

Their marriage ended when Adrienne died on January 6, 1966 at the age of 45 of heart failure after having liposuction surgery. According to the L.A. coroner's office, her heart disease, lung infection, and obesity made her susceptible to a mixture of pain-killing prescription drugs and the illegal drug PCP. The official cause of death was ruled PCP intake and atherosclerotic heart disease.

  • Tomi (Tommie, Tommi, Tommy) Rae Hynie: Tomi and James met in a recording studio. The couple were married in December 2001 at James' home on Beech Island, South Carolina in a private ceremony with around 150 friends and family as guests. During the reception, James and Tomi sang a duet, You've Got What It Takes. They spent their honeymoon in Hawaii, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
  • They were separated in the beginning of 2003 but reconciled in the fall of 2003. On January 28, 2004, James was arrested for domestic abuse in South Carolina. He filed for an annulment in February 2004 claiming that Tomi had never divorced her first husband, Javed Ahmed from Pakistan. Javed and Tomi were married in February 1997 in Houston, Texas. Tomi claimed that Javed had three other wives and that her marriage to him was never consummated. Tomi and James reconciled again in April 2004.

    In September 2005, Tomi moved to Los Angeles and filed for divorce citing drugs, beatings, and verbal abuse. They apparently did not divorce.


Most reports state James Brown as having had eight children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
More information about James Brown's children

Occupations and Interests:

James: Singer, musician, songwriter, dancer, actor, record producer. James enjoyed watching the news and old western movies.

Velma: For much of her life, Velma worked as a maid.

Adrianne: Television hair stylist.

Tomi: Lead vocalist of James' group, singer, actress, producer.


James lived for many years at Beech Island, South Carolina in a riverfront home. It is located across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia.

Quotes About James Brown and Marriage:

James on marriage: "To make it in life, you and your wife need to be in the same business. That has been my problem all along. My wives didn't know what I was doing. I would come back home from the road to a stranger. That's no good."
Source: James Brown: The Godfather of Soul. pg. 266.

More James Brown Quotes About Marriage

James Brown and Tomi Rae Hynie Timeline

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