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Fans pay tribute to ‘Godfather of Soul’

December 27, 2006

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The James Brown statue on Broad Street in his hometown of Augusta was draped in an American flag and a red scarf Tuesday as several dozen people gathered 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.

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, said Brown’s agent, Frank Copsidas.

Brown, who lived in Beech Island, South Carolina, 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.”

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