Thousands of mourners turned out on the streets of New York today (December 28) to see the body of James Brown on stage at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem – the scene of his 1962 ground-breaking live album.
The Godfather Of Soul, who died on Christmas Day (December 25) aged 73, was left “lying in state” allowing members of the public to pay their last respects until 8pm this evening.
The singer’s body arrived by horse drawn carriage shortly before 1pm and as it was taken inside the gathering crowds began chanting his name and singing the line “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” from his 1968 hit of the same name.
Inside, Brown’s body was laid out in a typically dazzling blue-sequined suit with white gloves, while the singer’s friend Rev Al Sharpton, who helped to organise the memorial, stood by the golden coffin.
The stage also featured two large portraits of the singer, while a floral display spelled out GODFATHER and a copy of ‘Live At The Apollo’ played in the background.
With some fans standing in line since midnight, the queue lasted over three hours to reach the body and stretched back from the venue for several blocks.
Speaking to NME.COM, several of those who queued, explained why they felt the need to pay their respects to Brown.
“James Brown is music,“ declared Wendy Richardson, who after taking the day off work, lined-up from 7am to reach the Apollo’s hall. “Whatever music you’re into James Brown probably had something to do with it.”
One of the younger fans present, 13-year-old Darius Garris, added: “I got into James Brown because my real mother played him all the time before she died. It was because of her that I came here today and it shows that James still means something to people of my age.”
NME.COM encountered a variety of nationalities in the long queue, including Brits Paul Docksy and Debbie McDonald from Stoke-On-Trent, who explained: “everyone is really nice because James Brown’s music was for everyone”.
As the allotted viewing time drew close to an ending, the queues showed no sign of abating.
Brown‘s body will now be flown back to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia tomorrow (December 29) for a private service for family and friends.
On Saturday (December 30), a public funeral will be held in the city’s 8500 capacity Civic auditorium which was re-named the James Brown Arena earlier in the year.
And have your say on Brown by posting your tributes and memories below.
–By our New York staff.