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James Brown Offered Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley His First Record Deal

Before Charles Kelley was part of Grammy-winning country trio Lady Antebellum, he and his older brother Josh were in a country rock group, Inside Blue, and their first-ever record deal was offered by none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

But despite Brown and manager Larry Friday’s best attempts, the brothers — who were just young teens at the time — declined the offer.

“We were too young,” Josh Kelley says. “We were, like, 14. It was ridiculous.”

Their father intervened, too, Kelley explains, after Friday told the (extremely underage) brothers, “We’re going to go to New York. You’re going to do a big CD release party. All the finest girls in the world are going to be there. Champagne!”

In the end, it was a fantastic decision. After a brief stint as a solo artist, Charles Kelley and middle school pal Dave Haywood joined up with Hillary Scott, forming Lady A.

While the world will never know what could have happened had the Kelley brothers signed with the “I Feel Good” hitmaker, country fans can agree that they “feel good” about it. After all, “Need You Now” — and the group’s many other hits — may never have come about if Dr. Kelley hadn’t said a firm “no” to the Godfather.

Check out the video above, from Taste of Country‘s You Think You Know Country? series, to learn more little-known Lady Antebellum facts and about the band’s rise to the top.

NEXT: Top 10 Lady Antebellum Songs

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