Fans in Augusta pay tribute to Brown - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Fans in Augusta pay tribute to Brown

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Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 2:18 pm | Updated: 4:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

AUGUSTA, Ga. - The James Brown statue on Broad Street, his hometown, was draped in an American flag and a red scarf as several dozen people gathered Tuesday to pay their respects to the late singer. Flowers were left at the base of the statue in tribute to Brown, who died Monday in Atlanta. He was 73.

One visitor to the statue, John Arthur Thomas, 73, of Daleville, Ala., said he stopped by because Brown was a legend and had "done a lot of things from the heart to help people."

"There were some troubled times in his life, like everybody else, but he meant well," Thomas said. "He is a legend. There will never be another James Brown."

Consuelo Miller, 32, of Syracuse, N.Y., whose husband, Rodney, is stationed at Fort Gordon with the U.S. Army, came to the statue with her son and stepdaughter so her children could say that they were there.

"I just wanted to bring the kids down here to let them see a great star," Miller said. "He is the `Godfather of Soul.'"

The Rev. Al Sharpton will officiate at Brown's funeral service, details of which were still incomplete, said Brown's agent, Frank Copsidas.

Sharpton and some of Brown's relatives spent Tuesday afternoon at an Augusta funeral home, where they were expected to view the singer's body and complete funeral arrangements. Sharpton left the funeral home without speaking to reporters.

The funeral will likely be held in the next few days and there is expected to be a private service for family and a public service as well, said Marcus Reid, co-owner of C.A. Reid Sr. Memorial Funeral Home, which is coordinating the plans. There will also likely be several viewings of Brown's body, Reid said.

Brown's daughter-in-law Diane Dean Rouse has said she hopes the funeral would be open to the people of Augusta.

The singer died of heart failure less than two days after he had been hospitalized with pneumonia and only three days after leading his annual holiday toy giveaway in Augusta.

He also had diabetes and prostate cancer that was in remission. But he initially seemed fine at the hospital and talked about his New Year's Eve show at B.B. King Blues Club in New York, Copsidas said.

Rena Siwek, public relations director for the club, said an announcement would be made Wednesday on who would be filling Brown's spot.

"We're working furiously here," Siwek said.

The New York City club wasn't the only venue affected by Brown's death. Some 1,400 tickets had been sold as of late last week for a show Wednesday night at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Conn. The show was to kick off a national tour. The theater box office was issuing refunds.

Brown is survived by his partner, Tomi Rae Hynie, one of his backup singers, and at least four children - his two daughters and sons Daryl and James Brown II, Copsidas said.

He was born in poverty in Barnwell, S.C., in 1933, and abandoned as a 4-year-old to the care of relatives and friends. He grew up in Augusta in an "ill-repute area," as he once called it, learning how to hustle to survive.

By the eighth grade in 1949, he had served 3 1/2 years in reform school for breaking into cars. While there, he met Bobby Byrd, whose family took Brown into their home. Byrd also took Brown into his group, the Gospel Starlighters. Soon they changed their name to the Famous Flames and their style to hard R&B.

Brown, who lived in Beech Island, S.C., near the Georgia line, won a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (best R&B recording) and for "Living in America" in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male.) He had a brief but memorable role as a manic preacher in 1980's "The Blues Brothers," starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

In a statement released Tuesday by his publicist, Aykroyd said, "No one has ever integrated music, musicianship, dance and showmanship so effectively as did J.B. Every rap, hip-hop, house, soul, R&B, rock and pop artist practicing today has been influenced compositionally and choreographically by Mr. Brown.

"Fortunate were those of us who were able to engage his talents and witness his latest shows. The greatest on-stage revue of music in the history of our planet."

Brown was himself to the end, at one point saying, "I'm going away tonight," said friend Charles Bobbit, who was with the singer when he died. "I didn't want to believe him," he said.

A short time later, Brown sighed quietly, closed his eyes and died, Bobbit said.

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