How Tall Was James Brown? (+ His Heels)

James Brown (1933-2006) was an American singer and songwriter who had a hugely successful career spanning over 5 decades! 

Regarding his height, he was clearly on the smaller side, and confidently wore shoes giving him 2+ inches of added height, and he looked great in them!

But how tall was he when he took them off?

Well, on this page I aim to find this out, by investigating his height by comparing his height to celebrities, to find out the height he stood at both in his prime and his later years. 

how tall was james brown

What Was His Real Height?

After taking into consideration the 2 inch shoes James Brown regularly wore and comparing his height to other celebrities, I conclude that he stood at 5'5.25" tall during his earlier years, and during his later years stood nearer to 5'4.5".

Therefore on this page, I will list his peak height at 5'5.25" (165.7 cm) tall.

Some Info

Drivers license

James Brown's driver's license dated from 1983-7 lists his height as 5'7" and weight as 167. This was most likely a self-reported height measurement, meaning he claimed this height, and it was also the height he stood at in his shoes.


In James's 1988 arrest mugshot, he looks to be around 5'7" tall. 

Although, similar to other celebrities who have had mugshots, he most likely had shoes on, and the camera is pointed upwards, so this isn't an accurate barefoot height measurement! 

A Funny Comment

In James's autobiography (1986), he mentioned only having one microphone, and having to gather around it with other singers, saying "I was so short I had to stand on a Co'Cola crate". (1)

Compared to Other Celebs

Let's compare Brown's height with some other celebs to gain a better understanding of his real height.

Heeled Shoes

James almost always wore Cuban heeled shoes that would give a comfortable 2 inches or more of height. Therefore in of him compared to other celebs I have taken this into consideration. 

Earlier Years

Michael Jackson 5'9" (175.3 cm)

James was Michael's musical mentor, with Michael describing him as the "Godfather of Soul". There are countless pics of them together, and when they are standing straight and side by side, Jackson is considerably taller in all of them. After taking into consideration Brown's shoe height advantage, the height difference between them appears to be between 3.5-4 inches.

Therefore when compared to Jackson, Brown looks to be between 5'5"-5'5.5" tall. 

Al Shrapton 5'10" (177.8 cm)

There are many pictures of Al and James together in younger years, with Al being considerably taller in the majority of them. After taking into consideration footwear, he appears to be around 5 inches taller in the majority of pics. 

So when compared to Al, this places James at 5'5" tall.

Later Years

Height Loss

Humans experience height through aging, at the rate of around 1cm per decade after 40. James was no different and appeared around 1/2-1 inch taller in his 30s and 40s than he did in his 60s and 70s.

George Bush 5'10.5" (179.1 cm)

At the time of meeting then-President Bush for honoring Black Music Month in 2001, James was in his late 60s. When standing next to each other there is a large height difference, and taking into consideration footwear, of around 6 inches. 

So, when next to George Bush in his later years, James appears to be standing at around 5'4.5" tall. 

Joss Stone 5'10" (177.8 cm)

Joss Stone & James Brown performed together on stage Live in 2005, with James being in his early 70's. Standing together, and considering James's 1 inch footwear advantage, Joss looks comfortably 5-5.5 inches taller than Brown.

So compared to Joss, James looks close to 5'4.5-5" tall. 

So, when compared to celebs in his early years, James looks to be 5'5"-5'5.5", and in later years in the 5'4.5-5'5" region of height.


In earlier years I believe that James Brown stood at a comfortable 5'5.25" tall. In later years however he lost some height, and he appears to stand at 5'4.5" tall. 

Therefore, on this page, I will list his peak height as 5'5.25" (165.7 cm) tall.

When Height Goes Too Far

Sometimes the topic of height goes too far, and as unbelievable as it seems, in 2007 and a man was shot after an argument escalated over how tall James Brown really was. (2)

Below is a parody sketch of the events that unfolded, titled '9 inches', in reference to the different heights both men were arguing the late Godfather of Soul stood at.


Heights Related to James Brown 

  1. Little Richard, Influence/Friend, 5'10" (177.8 cm)
  2. Chadwick Boseman, Played James Brown in the movie Get on Up (2014), 5'11.5" (181.6 cm)
  3. Luciano Pavarotti, Live Song Collab: It's a Man's World, 5'11" (180.3 cm)
  4. Eddie Murphy, James Brown Hot Tub skit from SNL, 5'9.5" (176.5 cm)
  5. Ray Charles, Singer/Songwriter, 5'9" (175.3 cm)
  6. Aretha Franklin, Singer/Songwriter, 5'5" (165.1 cm)


1: The Godfather of Soul: An Autobiography

2: WIS NEWS: Shooting erupts over James Brown's height

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