Arena Packed for James Brown Funeral
Tue, 26 Dec 2006 09:35:08
Not many entertainers get to have their final memorial service held in a building named after them -- but not many entertainers can claim the title "Godfather of Soul," either. James Brown's body made its final public appearance on Saturday (January 30th) at the James Brown Arena in the singer's hometown of Augusta, Georgia, where more than 8,500 fans came out to pay their last respects.
Even in death, Brown lived up to another of his sobriquets, the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business." Following his death from a heart attack on Christmas Day at age 73, the legendary performer's body embarked on a "farewell" tour that included a raucous two-day viewing at New York's Apollo Theatre, a private ceremony on Friday for family and friends, and the Saturday memorial service in Augusta. Brown appeared in three different outfits during the tour, including a black suit with a red shirt and sequined shoes at James Brown Arena.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, a longtime friend of Brown's, addressed the crowd Saturday, saying, "We come to thank God for James Brown, because only God could have made a James Brown possible." Brown's band, the Soul Generals, then paid a more secular tribute to their fallen leader, tearing through some of his best-loved songs, including "Sex Machine." The band was joined by legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins and rapper MC Hammer.
Among those who came to pay tribute to the Godfather of Soul was Michael Jackson, making one of his first appearances in the U.S. since he was acquitted of child molestation charges in June of 2005. After bowing before Brown's casket and sharing a hug with Sharpton, Jackson gave a brief speech, saying, "James Brown is my greatest inspiration. When I saw him move, I was mesmerized. I knew that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of James Brown."
--The ARTISTdirect Staff