On the scene at the Apollo's James Brown tribute | EW.com

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On the scene at the Apollo's James Brown tribute

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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.”

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