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After New York City, a final farewell to James Brown in his hometown on Saturday

After New York City, a final farewell to James Brown in his hometown on Saturday

After he was celebrated one last time on the stage of New York's Apollo Theater and then mourned by his family and closest friends in a private ceremony, James Brown's farewell tour was set to end Saturday before a packed house in the arena that bears his name.
More than 8,500 fans were expected to fill Brown's hometown arena to pay tribute to the "Godfather of Soul," whose iconoclastic influence on pop music placed him in the company of such greats as Elvis Presley and the Beatles. More fans also were expected to gather on the streets outside to listen in on the funeral, which was to be aired over a public address system.
Brown died of heart failure in Atlanta on Christmas morning while hospitalized for pneumonia. He was 73.
Saturday's public funeral will be the third memorial event held in as many days for Brown, whose hits _ such as "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" _ inspired generations of soul, funk, disco, rock and rap artists.
On Thursday, thousands of fans poured into the Apollo for a celebration at the venue where one of Brown's trademark high-energy concerts launched him into the international spotlight in 1956.
Then Friday, about 300 family members and close friends _ including boxing promoter Don King and comedian Dick Gregory _ gathered in a small brick church in nearby North Augusta, South Carolina. The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy.
"When he started singing, we were sitting in the back of the bus. When he stopped singing, we were flying Lear jets," said Sharpton, who toured with Brown in the 1970s and remained a close friend.
It is appropriate that Brown's final event is in Augusta. Even when he became an international superstar, Brown always considered the city on the South Carolina border to be his home.
It was a place for highs, such as his annual tradition of handing out Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families, and lows _ including the drug-fueled interstate police chase that landed him a 15-month stint in prison.
Brown was born in 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina. He spent much of his childhood in Augusta, and he later left a mark on his hometown that was indelible and impossible to ignore.
His turkey giveaway provides meals for more than 1,000 families each year, and his annual toy drive brought in Christmas gifts for hundreds of needy children. He had participated in the latest toy giveaway just three days before he died.
The city renamed James Brown Boulevard a decade ago and erected a statue of him in a nearby downtown park last year. Earlier this year, the city's main auditorium was named in his honor.


Updated : 2020-12-02 09:05 GMT+08:00