Fans pay tribute to Brown; funeral set
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The James Brown statue on Broad Street, here in 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, 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.
The public funeral service will be held Saturday at James Brown Arena in Augusta, followed by burial later in the day, Copsidas said. Brown’s body will lie in state at the Apollo Theater in New York on Thursday and again on Saturday at the Augusta arena. A private service for family and friends will be held Friday at an undisclosed location.
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 ó his two daughters, Deanna Brown Thomas and Yamma Brown Lumar, and sons Daryl and James Brown II, Copsidas said.
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.
Fans pay tribute to Brown; funeral set