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Farewell Tour to James Brown Ends

Farewell Tour to James Brown Ends

James Brown's farewell tour was headed to an anticipated packed house in the arena that bears his name, a day after he was mourned by his family and closest friends in a private ceremony.
More than 8,500 fans were expected to fill his hometown arena to pay tribute to Brown, whose iconoclastic influence on pop music places him in the company of greats like Elvis Presley and the Beatles. More fans were expected to gather on the streets outside to listen to the funeral over a public address system.
Brown died of heart failure on Christmas morning in Atlanta 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 like "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 Friday, in a small brick church in nearby North Augusta, S.C., about 300 family members and close friends _ including boxing promoter Don King and comedian Dick Gregory _ gathered for a 90-minute service where 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.
A day earlier, thousands of fans poured into the Apollo Theater in New York for a sometimes raucous celebration of Brown at the venue where one of his trademark high-energy concerts launched him into the international spotlight in 1956.
Even when he became an international superstar, he always considered the city on the South Carolina border as his home.
It was a place for highs, like his annual tradition of handing out Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families, and lows _ like the drug-fueled interstate police chase that landed him a 15-month stint in prison.
Brown was born in Barnwell, S.C., in 1933 and spent much of his childhood in Augusta singing and dancing for change on street corners. At times, he committed petty crimes that landed him in reform school.
Far from the typical low promise of a youth spent in what he once described as an "ill-repute" area of the city, Brown's mark on his hometown was indelible and impossible to ignore.
Besides his turkey giveaway, which provides meals for more than 1,000 families each year, he hosted an annual toy drive that 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 named a street James Brown Boulevard a decade ago and last year erected a statue of him in a downtown park nearby. Earlier this year, the city's main auditorium was named in his honor.


Updated : 2021-05-15 06:51 GMT+08:00