Fans pay tribute to Godfather of Soul as James Brown lies in state in Harlem

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Thousands of fans of James Brown, dubbed the Godfather of Soul, who died on Christmas Day, flocked to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, yesterday after his body was laid out for an afternoon viewing on an empty stage.

After being flown in from Atlanta, Mr Brown's body was taken the last few blocks to the Apollo, the venue for some of his earliest public performances, by horse-drawn carriage. Accompanying him was the Rev Al Sharpton, an old friend of the singer. He had promised a dramatic Harlem homecoming for the star, whose brand of music and vocals had an influence far beyond his soul roots.

Queues of devoted fans of Mr Brown had formed early in the morning along Harlem's 125th Street, their boredom alleviated by a wandering Brown look-alike singing some of his songs.

"I felt his music was great, phenomenal. He's going to be well missed," the five-time boxing world champion Iran "The Blade" Barkley told a local television reporter as he waited in line. "I met him at one of my fights and now I am just coming to pay my respects."

The body of the singer, whose hits included "Please, Please, Please", was to be flown back to his home town of Augusta, Georgia, in time for a private funeral service today. He will be buried tomorrow.