US singer James Brown, known as the "godfather of soul", has died in the southern city of Atlanta at the age of 73, US media reported early on Monday.
The reports said he had checked in with pneumonia late on Sunday into Emory Crawford Long Hospital, but hospital officials contacted early on Monday declined to confirm or deny the accounts.
Brown began his professional music career in 1953 and achieved fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s after captivating the public by his live performances and a number of recorded hit songs.
The 1960s was the period of Brown's greatest popular success.
Two of his tunes, Papa's Got a Brand New Bag and I Got You (I Feel Good), were top-selling singles for weeks.
His national profile was further boosted by appearances in the films Ski Party and the concert film The T.A.M.I. Show.
In the late 1960s, Look magazine called James Brown "the most important black man in America."
His 1970s hit songs included It's a New Day, Brother Rapp, Get Up (I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine), and Super Bad. The album Sex Machine was a best beller.
His success was reaffirmed in 1985, when James Brown performed the title song to Sylvester Stallone's Rocky IV movie.
The track, Living in America, won him the support of younger audiences and went on to win a Grammy award in 1987.
In 1986, together with Steve Winwood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Alison Moyet, James Brown made the critically acclaimed album Gravity.
He had a difficult childhood and a lot of trouble with the law.
Brown was born in 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina, the only son of a gas station attendant.
When he was only four, his parents separated and he grew up in the brothel run by his aunt in Augusta, Georgia.
Brown left school when he was in seventh grade and went to work, picking cotton, shining shoes, washing cars and dishes, and sweeping the floors in several stores.
His first arrest came at age 16, when he took part in an armed robbery and was sentenced to eight to 16 years of hard labour.
He served a short spell in a county jail before being transferred to a juvenile work camp where he remained for three years.
In the mid-1970s, he got involved in a radio station bribery scandal, his marriage to Deirdre Jenkins broke up, and his son Teddy died in a car accident.
In 1987, Brown was arrested for drug abuse for the fifth time in 10 months. He was accused by his new wife of assault and battery and was convicted of attempted murder a year later and sent to prison for six years.
But after spending 15 months at the State Park Prison in Columbia, South Carolina, he was moved to a reintegration center, where he produced radio and television advertisements warning against alcohol and drug abuse.
In February 1991, he was released on the condition that he would never drive or possess firearms.