More than a dozen people have called for a new autopsy or criminal investigation into the death of soul and funk legend James Brown, according to a new CNN investigation that focuses on the allegations that he and his wife Adrienne were murdered.

In 2006 in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, Brown was pronounced dead and was said to have passed of natural causes, specifically congestive heart failure. However, a new CNN investigation raises the possibility that the “Godfather of Soul” may have been murdered.

In the three-part investigative piece, writer Thomas Lake interviewed nearly 140 people over two years, and at least 11 of them, including Brown’s former manager, widow, and friends and associates have voiced their want for an autopsy and an opening of a criminal investigation into Brown’s death. 

Of the 11 skeptics includes Dr. Marvin Crawford, who signed Brown’s death certificate at an Atlanta hospital in 2006. In a recent interview with CNN, he revealed that he never believed the influential artist died of natural causes. 


“He changed too fast,” Crawford told CNN. “He was a patient I would never have predicted would have coded. … But he died that night, and I did raise that question: What went wrong in that room?”

Crawford also revealed that a nurse told him that drug residue was found in a tube helping Brown breathe, “somebody perhaps could have given him an illicit substance that led to his death” he said. Crawford claimed that he recommended an autopsy in the hours after Brown’s death, but the singer’s daughter Yamma declined. 

“There are legitimate questions about James Brown’s death that can only be answered by an autopsy and a criminal investigation,” CNN Lake wrote, adding that Brown’s late daughter LaRhonda Pettit and son-in-law Darren Lumar also alleged that Brown was killed before they died. 

“I’ve always had and still have a lot of questions … I wouldn’t mind a further investigation at all,” Brown’s friend, Rev. Al Sharpton told Lake.

Jacqueline Hollander, who searched and found much of the evidence that points towards a possible murder, also told Lake that Brown’s third wife Adrienne said she was forced to drop charges against her husband of assault with intent to murder after being intimidated and threatened by men working for Brown. Adrienne’s 1996 death is also being examined in the three-part series. At the time of her death, she was said to have died from an accidental overdose of painkillers following plastic surgery. But in 2017, detective Steve Miller, who investigated Adrienne’s death, showed CNN the pages of a notebook from a confidential informant who had given it to him in 2001. In those pages, which Miller claims he read for the first time after being contacted by CNN, he alleges that a doctor confessed to murdering Adrienne with a fatal drug overdose. 

The investigation on Brown’s death began in 2017 after Hollander called a reporter claiming to have information about Brown’s death. In the 1980s, she had been working with Brown as a songwriter and later alleged that he had raped her. After the incident in 1988, which Brown was never prosecuted for, Hollander began compiling evidence including documents and tapes over the course of three decades. Hollander’s reporting which was examined by CNN involved travel through nine states, a review of over ten thousand pages of police and court records, an analysis of over 1,300 pages of text messages from her phone, and forensic testing of a women’s shoe in a black duffel bag. 

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