Looking back at the James Brown memorial service

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December 31, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Remembering a father, a friend, a legend.

More than 8,000 people attended James Brown's memorial service in Augusta yesterday.

On the last Saturday of 2006, James Brown packed the arena named in his honor.

The Brown family was ushered in last, stopping and saying their goodbyes over the Godfather's open, gold-plated casket.

"He said, 'I'm not going to be with you all the time, but what I want you to do is, I want you to stay together,'" son Daryl Brown recalled.

It was perhaps the most rhythmic send-off ever, with performances by Ollie Woodson of the Temptations, local producer Derrick Monk, and soulful Santita Jackson.

Even the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, refused to miss the opportunity to see the man he called his mentor one last time.

"When I saw him move, I was mesmerized," Jackson said. "I've never seen a performer perform like James Brown. And right then and there, I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson also spoke eloquently of their longtime friend.

"He put dignity above dollars, and did not follow a path--he blazed a trail," Rev. Jackson said.

"James Brown was a man's man," said Rev. Sharpton. "And he stood up like a man, he lived like a man, and on Christmas Day, he died like a man."

Words that will continue to echo off the walls of the James Brown Arena for years to come, in his hometown, where his heart has always been.

This was a huge undertaking for our local government, given just five days to prepare. Both parking and public safety were concerns. 100 deputies were on hand yesterday, including Sheriff Ronnie Strength