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Remembering an Augusta legend, longtime James Brown emcee and ‘cape man’ Danny Ray

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:45 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - James Brown’s “cape man” and emcee, well-known in his own right, has died of natural causes.

Danny Ray worked for four decades with the late “Godfather of Soul,” according to Brown’s daughter Deanna.

Ray was 85 years old and was known for showmanship like Brown himself, one of Augusta’s most famous residents.

Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen confirmed Ray died Tuesday night and that the death was natural.

Behind every iconic James Brown moment was the same signature voice.

A friend of Ray told News 12 when he got the news last night, he couldn’t believe it. It finally set in this morning, when the news of Tay’s death started making headlines.

“The first hype man, the original hype man,” Coco Rubio said. “Nobody did that before. It just seemed like such a cool thing he did.”

For people like Soul Bar Owner Rubio, a friend of Ray’s he was so much more.

“He was like the ultimate cool,” Rubio said. “Always dressed, sharp-dressed man. Always the best-dressed person in the room.”

Rubio met Ray soon after opening Soul Bar in 1995. They named the bar after the band, which led to a lifelong bond.

“Just kind of became friends with him and the family and still have that connection,” Rubio said.

Rubio says Ray’s influence is worldwide, and he says a lot of people will be paying their respects to the Augusta legend.

“Part of that James Brown story, he was a big part of it,” he said. “Such a classic, legendary, iconic vision of a show, of a concert. And that was Danny Ray.”

The last time he saw Ray was in 2019 at the rehearsal for the James Brown Birthday Bash. It was the last time Ray performed live with the band.

Rubio says he’ll miss his old friend, but he’s grateful for the time he got with both James Brown and Ray.

“I feel lucky that I was able to know them while they were alive and thank them for their music and their influence in music and pop culture and American culture,” Rubio said.

At one point during our interview, Rubio had to laugh at the thought of James Brown even having a cape man.

He said Elvis had a cape, but he didn’t have a cape man. But James Brown did, and that cape man was Danny Ray.

His death brought mourning and condolences on social media from fans who recognized him around the world:

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