On the scene at the Apollo's James Brown tribute

Brown_l“Everybody’s got James Brown in them, from your grandfather, to your moms — everybody. It’s automatically in your body,” declared rapper Kool Keith (aka Dr. Octagon), one of thousands of mourners who waited in line yesterday outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater, where the Godfather of Soul, who died Christmas morning, lay in repose. And not many folks who braved the chilly temperatures in two slow-moving lines that snaked from the Apollo for several city blocks would’ve disagreed. PopWatch sent reporter Alvin Blanco to the scene, where boom boxes blared Brown’s hits, fans wondered aloud about rumors of an appearance by Michael Jackson (whose memorable performance with Brown and Prince lives on courtesy of YouTube), and enterprising sorts hawked James Brown t-shirts (no fewer than seven varieties), mixtapes, and certificates that read “James Brown at the Apollo, I Was There.” Here are some of the memorable quotes Blanco collected, and we hope you’ll share your thoughts and memories here, too:Bill Stephney, musician and producer who helped market Public Enemy: “A lot of times, people can’t define black culture, or African-American culture. I just equate it to James Brown. If there is any hesitancy or any vagueness about what defines the African American experience — musically and culturally and soulfully — put on a James Brown record. Put on ‘Doin’ it to Death,’ put on any of them, and you can hear pain, soul, happiness, promise — all in six minutes.”M. Morton Hall (pictured), carrying a poster from a 1972 James Brown concert that he said he’d helped produce as a member of The Showstoppers: “James Brown changed the course of music. Even back then, his dancing, his stage performance, no one has ever been as electrifying on the stage as James Brown. Everybody copied him…Mick Jagger, everyone. These are the kinds of [crowds] that were outside the Apollo back in the day. You’d think they were giving away money. To come here again 30 to 40 years later is a testament to the man’s contribution to music and the black struggle.”

Robert, Brooklyn: “I met James Brown once in 1966 he came to my hometown, Auburn, Alabama. We jumped the fence, it was six of us; I was small at the time. [Laughs] James Brown finally [arrived] and we started talking to him. He said, ‘Brothers can I trust y’all? Y’all look like some nice young men.’ He said his band needed some food. ‘Y’all know a place where you can get stuff for the band members and me?’ There was a place about a mile from there that sold chicken dinners; at that time, a chicken dinner was maybe 89, 99 cents. Maybe he gave us $300. We came back and jumped the fence again. He said, ‘Thank you, brothers, keep the change.’ Man, we had a fit.”Charlie Hearn, London: “I wanted to see James Brown at B.B. King’s [in Manhattan] on New Year’s Eve, but the spirit, James Brown’s vibes, still exist. This is my B.B. King’s [concert] right here.”Mike, Harlem: “He did a lot for music. He did a lot for his people with his music. He wasn’t just into making money, he was also concerned about the people that made him who he is. He was one of the people that pushed for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to become a holiday. And he’s also the originator of funk music, he’s the originator of rap, he’s an originator of all the different dance steps you see people doing now.”addCredit(“M. Morton Hall: Alvin Blanco”)


Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • Ellipsian

    Peace out, Mr. Brown.

  • Stephanie

    I saw the price for the James Brown tickets, and they were about 75 and up. It would be really cruel to sell them on EBay as a collectors item. The guy was a true legend though. He bridged the gap between soul, funk and rock. Despite his troubles with the law, etc. he will be missed dearly.

  • Cindy Westcarr

    My sincerely condolencs to the Brown Family.
    From a quite mind comes vision;
    From vision comes knowledge of unity;
    From knowledge of unity comes compassion for all.
    From compassion comes greatness.
    JB, thank you for sharing your vision, knowledge,compassion and greatness with us.

  • Dorothy

    What Stephney said is absolutely right. James Brown is more than just a legendary musician; he’s a critical part of the African-American experience. I’m so happy that people are paying this man his due.

  • Randall

    James Brown is a milestone marker for fifty years of American history. He told the nation what it needed to hear when political leaders couldn’t. He told Blacks what we needed to hear at the most critical times. And he told us that we were strong enough to celebrate our creativity even as evil systems tried to break us. So- yes world, I’m Black and I’m proud, and I got SOUL – and I’m superbad! Living in America… Thank you James.

  • Loving the Man

    God pless the man and his family. There was none better. We all Black or white should be in his deat for his bringour music to where it is today. I hope that all his family are safe and get what they need to make a life for their selfs.I also hope that they do not try to use his name to make a killing for moneys sake. That would be a harabule thing thing and real SIN.

  • bootsycolumbia

    He was scheduled to perform here in Montreal on January 3rd. I was going to try and get tickets because I’ve always wanted to see Mr. Brown live. Sadly, I won’t get the chance. May the man rest in peace, and my deep condolences go to his family and friends.

  • Juju

    James Brown was a man with true soul. “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud, and Papa don’t take no mess!” were my favorites. So many artists imitated him because he was original and had much to offer the music world. One of his songs that does not get much mention is “King Herion.” It spoke volumes of what drugs do to people-the ruining of their lives. James Brown was “Soul Brother Number One!

  • Hector

    I wish to thank CNN for televising the entire JB Tribute at the Apollo, what other network would’ve done this? thanks CNN, you’re my “home-channel” on cable.

  • Derrick “DC” Chatman

    James Brown was a gift to us from God….he was a man who never stopped giving of himself to the people….I will miss him tremendously and now he has taken his place with the rest of God’s wonderful gifts….James Brown…rest in peace….

  • Douglas Hill

    I have lived in Augusta Ga. all my life. I grew up when life was very hard being a Black man and living in the South. During those times the word “Black” was considered very derogatory and demeaning.James Brown took the word “Black”, made us proud of it and had us all dancing in the streets. I have always been uplifted by his music.
    James Brown was a Bridge during a time of very Troubled Waters! Thank You Mr. Brown

  • Thomas R. Bush

    A great man lost but fortunately his music will remain. On My Space I found a great tribute: http://www.myspace.com/jamesbrowntribute – a really respectful way to honour the man and his music, keeping the spirit alive. I keep on playing it ever since I discovered it.

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