Superstar Michael Jackson headlined as fans, friends and family paid a final, soulful tribute to James Brown, at a funeral ceremony in the hometown of the late “Godfather of Soul.” “James Brown, I shall miss you, and I love you so much,” Jackson said in a brief eulogy, his thin voice cracking with emotion. “James Brown is my biggest inspiration,” he said to loud cheers. More than 8,000 people packed the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia, and many filed silently past the white-lined golden casket, in which Brown, known for his flashy outfits, lay clad in a black suit and gloves and a ruby shirt.

The mood turned electric and joyful as friends of the soul icon played some of James Brown’s hits, such as “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Get Up.” The crowd swayed, clapped and sang along as the bands, which included former Temptations singer Ali Woodson, Minister Derrick Monk, and The Soul Generals, belted out their tributes to the “hardest working man in show business.” Also among those who took the stage was Tomi Rae Hynie, who had lived with Brown for the past five years and mothered one of his children. A flashy dresser till the end, they changed James Browns costumes for his final appearence.