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Interview with James Brown's Widow

Aired January 3, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, exclusive -- she says she's James Brown's widow. His lawyer says otherwise. Now, in her first nationwide TV interview since she says she was locked out of the music legend's house, she's with us.
And then...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. Can you -- are warm?


KING: The desperate search is on for a sailor from California lost at sea -- alone in a disabled yacht taking on water hundreds of miles off the stormy coast of Chile. We've got the latest with his daughters and his girlfriend. They spoke with him by satellite phone just hours ago.

Will rescuers reach him in time?

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

With us here in Los Angeles is Tomi Rae Brown. She's the widow of James Brown, the legendary king of soul, James Brown, who died just last week.

She married James Brown in 2001. The validity of that marriage is under legal dispute. She has a 5-year-old son who's with us here tonight, by the way, James Joseph Brown II.

How are you? How are you coping with this, by the way?

TOMI RAE HYNIE: Oh, it's very hard, you know? I have a lot of -- just a lot of emotions. You know, I'm sad. I'm angry.

KING: All of it going on?

HYNIE: All of it going on, yes. Absolutely.

KING: Let's go back just a little.

How did you meet James?

HYNIE: I met James to audition to be a background singer. I knew one of his background singers. She was a -- I taught her to write a song once years ago and she wanted to pay me back. And she said, do you want to audition for James Brown?

So my drummer at the time -- I was doing Janis Joplin and Legends In Concert...

KING: You were backgrounding for Janis?

HYNIE: No, I was playing Janis.

KING: Oh, I see...

HYNIE: In Legends In Concert.

KING: Right.

HYNIE: And for Dead Legends Live. And I -- and my drummer was afraid. He said I know I'm going to lose you.

Anyway, I went upstairs and I sang "Mercedes Benz" to James Brown and he said you're not a background singer, you're a lead singer. And he made me his lead soloist. And he...

KING: How after -- how soon after that did you fall in love?

HYNIE: Well, he asked me how soon would it take me to get ready. And I said well, an hour. And he said can you be at a show tomorrow in San Francisco? I said yes. So they sent -- he sent me in a car and I went and I packed up my clothes and I did the show.

We fell in love probably the moment that I met him, probably the moment that I met him.

KING: Why?

HYNIE: Because he had such presence and when I met him, I immediately started working with him. So me being a musician, he commanded the stage and he just knew everything about everything I loved. And I had been familiar with James Brown. I knew who he was. And I loved him already. And it was just easier to love him when I saw that it was really true, this guy was music.

KING: Did it get serious right away, then?

HYNIE: Actually, no. I kind of wanted to hold it off and I would lay with him and we would sleep together at first. But then, after a few nights of that, we did get physical. But a few nights I thought it was right to wait. I thought we should wait.

KING: How long did you wait?

HYNIE: We waited three nights.

KING: You married him in the first week or two?

HYNIE: No, no, no. I'm talking about... KING: You were still not married?

HYNIE: ... when our relationship started, and that was about three months into our -- into our -- my working for him.

KING: Were you surprised at the outpouring of affection upon his death by people?

HYNIE: Not at all. The world loved James Brown. It made it easier for me to deal with James Brown's -- with my husband's death -- knowing that they were all mourning him, too. It made it easier for me because so many other things were making it so difficult for me to mourn his death.

KING: I want to get to that.

Where were you when he died?

HYNIE: I was in a hospital that my husband sent me to because my father had passed away just three months prior, now four months. But this is my father. Here are his ashes. And he had passed away...

KING: You carry his ashes in that bottle?

HYNIE: Yes. I had him put in here. And my husband sent me. It was the only month off that we had. We had been on tour for nine weeks with only four days off in between that nine weeks. We had a -- we had one month off before we had to go back on tour this New Year's Eve in New York for another four weeks.

He told me to go to a place and to get off the medications, to grieve my father and to get over it, because I was deeply affected. I was very close with my father.

KING: So where were you?

HYNIE: So I was at a recovery center in Port Wyning (ph).

KING: Recovering from?

HYNIE: Recovering from taking medications to deal with my father's death.

KING: You were addicted?

HYNIE: I was addicted to painkillers.

KING: James died?

HYNIE: James died.

KING: Where?

HYNIE: He -- James died at the hospital.

KING: In? HYNIE: In Atlanta.

KING: Yes.

HYNIE: The last time I spoke to him was at the dentist's office. I spoke to him throughout that day. I spoke to him every day, all throughout that month.

KING: Was he expected to -- did you know he was gravely ill?

HYNIE: No. They told me that -- Mr. Bobbitt told me -- because I was going to come and my husband said no, he didn't want me to see him that way. And he said that he wanted me to stay and he wanted me to get over my father and get off of this medication.

And I had already had plans to meet him on Christmas Day.

KING: When was the last time you spoke to him?

HYNIE: That day. That day I spoke to him. And he said, "Baby, I love you." And the next time when I spoke to him, Mr. Bobbitt said that he couldn't talk. And I said, "Well, what's wrong?" I said, "I need to come right now."

And he said, he said, "No, the doctor -- he's got the best doctors in the world working on him."

And I could hear all the clutter in the background and I felt funny. But he said nobody is listening to you right now. I guess there was a speaker phone. And I told him I didn't want everybody to hear. And I told Mr. Bobbitt and I told him to go to my husband's ear and whisper to him that I love him and that I'm with him and that...

KING: Did you know he was dying?

HYNIE: No. They told me he just had pneumonia and the doctors were working on him and he was going to be OK. I was going to see him on Christmas.

KING: Who told you he was dying?

HYNIE: Mr. Bobbitt called me and told me. It was on a message. Because at that time, I was in a therapy session on my father.

KING: They left you a message that your husband was dead?

HYNIE: My -- Mr. Bobbitt left me a message that my husband had just passed, to call him right away.

I was, at that moment, in the therapy session, a grieve and loss session over my father's death. I called immediately after that. He called me. I spoke to Mr. Bobbitt and my husband 45 minutes...

KING: Mr. Bobbitt is the manager?

HYNIE: Is the manager -- 45 minutes before he died. Now, he called me at 1:45. I spoke to my husband at like 1:00, 1:10, through Mr. Bobbitt. I spoke to my husband that afternoon in the doctor's chair -- in the dentist's chair.

Niece (ph), his daughter, is the only one that called me and that -- she got a hold of me after my grief and loss group. And she said, "My daddy's dead. You have to come home. We need you, mama."

KING: Did you come home right away?

HYNIE: I did. And I already had the ticket booked. The ticket was booked for Christmas Day. We were going to have -- he had a big surprise for me. And the big surprise was that we were going to renew our vows and Mr. Bobbitt knew this. And Mr. Bobbitt knew this.

KING: Were you living together with your husband?

HYNIE: All the time. For that last -- for the last nine-and-a- half to 10 years.

KING: Who has disputed that?

HYNIE: Dallas has disputed that. Canon has disputed that.

KING: These are the children?

HYNIE: No. The children don't dispute it because the children know I lived there. In fact, I begged my husband...

KING: So who is disputing it?

HYNIE: Deana and Yamma, I guess, hired Reverend Sharpton to be their advocate.

KING: Who are they?

HYNIE: They are his children that tried to sue him for the lawsuit. The children all come over for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

KING: There are how many children?

HYNIE: There are -- there are -- there are seven children. One of them was passed. Teddy passed.

KING: He died?


KING: And of these remaining six, how many support you in this?

HYNIE: The -- well, the boys support me. And Neece feels like she's in the middle. But Deana and Yamma have deliberately left me out of -- but I don't want to bash them. I don't, because they've lost their father, too, and that's not what I'm here to do.

KING: All right, let's get into more in a minute.

My guest is Tomi Rae Brown, the widow of James Brown.

We'll be right back.






J. BROWN: Darling tell me I need you. Oh, now, come on, try me.


J. BROWN: Baby, try me.


J. BROWN: And you love.



REV. AL SHARPTON: And even though many stars you helped, and even though he knows they're going to criticize him, Michael said he don't care what they say, Michael came for you today, Mr. Brown. I don't care what the media says tonight, James Brown wanted Michael Jackson with him here today.

MICHAEL JACKSON: James Brown is my greatest inspiration. Ever since I was a small child, no more than like six years old, my mother would wake me no matter what time it was -- if I was sleeping, no matter what I was doing -- to watch the television to see the master at work. And I when I saw him move, I was mesmerized. 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.


KING: Were you at the funeral?

HYNIE: I was at all three of them.

KING: There were three?


KING: Did you...

HYNIE: Was I invited?



Did you speak at this funeral?

HYNIE: I was invited.

KING: Who conducted it? Was it Mr. Sharpton that was in charge of the funeral?

HYNIE: Mr. Sharpton -- Deana came up to me and said, "We have hired Mr. Sharpton to be the family's advocate."

And I said, "I thought I was a part of this family."

And Deana looked down, holding my hand, and said, "You don't understand."

KING: What caused the rift between you and her?

HYNIE: No rift.

KING: No rift?

HYNIE: Her father's death, I guess.

KING: No rift? You're not allowed to speak?

HYNIE: There was...

KING: You're not acknowledged at the funeral?

HYNIE: I'll tell you what, before the funeral, I broke bread with them. I had Thanksgiving. I had Christmas.

KING: Did you ask them why you weren't allowed to...

HYNIE: I asked their father to let them back in the house after that lawsuit. And she came to me and he said, "You're making a mistake. They will turn a knife in your back. But I'll do it for you."

And she came to me and thanked me. She hugged me and said, "Thank you. We were never allowed in this house by any other -- "

KING: Why do you think they're against you?

HYNIE: I hate to think the worst, Larry...

KING: Think.

What do you think?

HYNIE: I think it has to do with money. KING: Is there a fight over the estate?

HYNIE: There obviously must be. I didn't know there was. I know what my husband wanted.

KING: The will hasn't been read yet, has it?

HYNIE: They haven't even told me when it's going to be read. They haven't even told me where my husband's body is going to be buried.

KING: It's not been buried yet?

HYNIE: I don't know.

KING: You don't know?

HYNIE: Today I saw a picture where they...

KING: I thought he was buried in Augusta, Georgia.

HYNIE: Well, they did. What they did is they took a picture in Augusta and they drove it into the gates of our home and they said he's going to be resting there -- in the papers I found this out -- until they build a memoriam for him at the top of the hill by our horse gates.

And then, I read that and I was just devastated. My mother -- I just didn't know what to do. I -- I was devastated.

KING: Were you...

HYNIE: The next day, Mr. Bobbitt called me and he -- or two days later Mr. Bobbitt called me. And he said, "You know what? I won't go along with them and now they aren't telling me anything. I told them I'm going to tell them what James said. I'm going to tell them the truth."

KING: So, Mr. Bobbitt is in your corner now?

HYNIE: Mr. Bobbitt is in nobody's corner. He's in James Brown's corner.

KING: Well, James Brown can't speak, so...

HYNIE: I know. Well, he's -- Mr. Bobbitt was told certain things that my husband wanted for me and for my son.

KING: Are you locked out of your house now?

HYNIE: I came to those gates on Christmas Day to eight padlocks and...

KING: Where is your house?

HYNIE: My house is at 430 Beech -- Douglas Drive in Beech Island, South Carolina, with my husband.

KING: Who locked you out?

HYNIE: Buddy Dallas.

KING: Who's Buddy Dallas?

HYNIE: His criminal law attorney.

KING: He had the right to lock you out?

HYNIE: He said he owned the home now because he had bought it. Now, I remember this deal a long time ago because I was laying beside my husband when it happened. He said he bought it for tax purposes so that my husband wouldn't lose it and he could sell it back to him when that...

KING: That's done. That might be true. And therefore...

HYNIE: It was. It was a conversation I heard.

KING: So he can lock you out?

HYNIE: Well, so -- but -- but me and my 5-year-old son lived there. It was our home.

KING: Do you have -- do you have a lawyer?

HYNIE: Yes, I do.

KING: And is the lawyer fighting to get you back into the house?

HYNIE: Yes, he is.

KING: Do you know where that stands?

HYNIE: Actually, I just had a meeting with him this morning and I had a meeting with him yesterday.

KING: And what does he say?

HYNIE: And where that stands right now is -- right now the family has put it into probate and they are fighting me to get into the house. They are allowing me to go in and remove my belongings. But they will not allow me to go into my home.

KING: There are some questioning the marriage, right?

Were you married?

HYNIE: Yes. And all of these people were present at my marriage.

KING: Do you have proof of the marriage?

HYNIE: Yes, I do. KING: Do you have it...

HYNIE: Right here.

KING: And this is a marriage certificate, the State of South Carolina, Aiken County, the 14th day of December, 2001, at Beech Island, James Brown and Tami Ray Hynie. That's your...

HYNIE: That's Tomi Ray.

KING: Tomi. I'm sorry. Tomi Ray Hynie...

HYNIE: That's OK, Mr. King.

KING: ... were united in bonds of matrimony by Larry Friar (ph), the minister.

It seems appropriately sealed, but we'll show it to the audience.

HYNIE: The only reason I don't have the original is because it's in my home, with everything else I own.

KING: And there are some questioning is that -- we hate -- this might be delicate -- the...

HYNIE: That's OK. I'm ready.

KING: ... your son...

HYNIE: My son.

KING: ... is he James Brown's son?

HYNIE: Absolutely without a doubt.

KING: There was a DNA? There was no doubt about it? There's no question?

HYNIE: There is no doubt about it. No doubt to my husband, no doubt to me and I'd be willing to take any test that they'd like to take.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tomi Rae Brown on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


JAMES BROWN: They're dancing on the good foot. I got to get on the good foot.

KING: Is there another name for the dance you would do?

J. BROWN: Oh, it's the James Brown. But it just meant a dancing (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Every time I walked with little Michael (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the moonwalk, because he kind of walking forward. But the James Brown, the Mashed Potato, the -- I just kind of got -- standed out, kind of doing my own (UNINTELLIGIBLE) James Browning, like the kids would say, James Brown kind of glides across the stage.

KING: James is forever.

J. BROWN: (SINGING) A whole lot of feel to my voice and steps. And that's on my bad foot.





J. BROWN: (SINGING) Get up. Get on up. Get on up. Stay on the scene. Get on up. Like a sex machine. Get on up. Get up. Get on up. Stay on the scene. Get on up. Like a sex machine. Get on up. Get up. Stay on the scene...


KING: On a personal note, by the way, I knew James Brown very well. And he also entertained at my Larry King Cardiac Foundation two years ago in Washington and tore the place up, as they say.

By the way, were you surprised to see Michael Jackson at the funeral?

HYNIE: I was surprised to see Michael Jackson at the funeral. I was surprised, although not -- because Michael Jackson had been, I know, had been a fan of his for many years, since he was a kid.

KING: He said that he's the reason he got into show business.

HYNIE: Yes, yes.

KING: Were you surprised that he kissed the...

HYNIE: I didn't see any of that.

KING: Oh, you didn't?

HYNIE: What did he do?

He kissed...

KING: He kissed the casket.

HYNIE: I kissed the casket first, I guess. Maybe...

KING: Yes, there it is.

HYNIE: I don't know who did it first, but... KING: He's kissing the body.

HYNIE: Yes, I kissed the body, as well. Yes. I don't know. I didn't see him do it. I wasn't watching what he was doing. But I certainly kissed the casket and the body and I told him...

KING: How about all the turbulence in your life with James?


KING: You called 911. You had him arrested.


KING: For -- did he physically hit you?

HYNIE: We had a fight and it -- I got scared. What was printed was true. He attested to the fact. He paid for it in the legal documents. He did whatever -- whatever they call it. I don't know what they call it. I'm not educated myself.

KING: What do you mean paid for it?

HYNIE: As far as he paid the fine.

KING: Oh, oh.

HYNIE: And he admitted guilt.

KING: Why did you take him back?

HYNIE: And -- because he apologized and because we had a meeting in my living room with me and him and my lawyer and Mr. Dallas and Mr. Canon. And my lawyer was on a speaker phone. And they then forced me to sign that I would not say that I was a -- a common law wife in order to come back in the home.

My husband...

KING: Well, if you have a marriage certificate, you're not a common law.

HYNIE: Then -- yes. My husband and my attorney knew that, so.

KING: What about the -- James took out, in July of 2003, a full page ad in "Variety" announcing the breakup of your marriage?

That's pretty definitive.

HYNIE: Well, we had an argument on an airplane. And this happened many times. We had an argument on an airplane. And he wrote that on the airplane and called his secretary on the airplane and he told her to put it in there. He said it was great publicity and not to worry about it and to just -- just to write it off.

Now, we never broke up after that scene. We stayed together. We stayed together. That was our relationship. This is his way of teaching me how to deal with, I guess, today, because he did this all the time.

KING: But he had -- he had to have some enormous faults.

HYNIE: He -- well, we all have enormous faults. But...

KING: But it was final, right?

HYNIE: Yes. Yes, he -- you know, I don't want to...


HYNIE: ... say anything bad, because my husband has passed. I don't even know if he's in the grave yet. They haven't told me. But we did fight. We did get violent. We did get physical. And I'm not going to put it all on him, you know?

Yes, but we made up. We were passionate. We loved each other, you know? And we weren't saints. We partied. We had good times. We had bad times.

KING: According to "The Daily Mail"...

HYNIE: But we were together...

KING: According to "The Daily Mail" in London, did you say that you think he's broke, he died broke?

HYNIE: No, I said that I wouldn't be surprised if he died like Sammy Davis, Jr. because there was many occasions when he would say, "Baby, the check's not paid yet." Or it would be months and months before the check would come. And it would -- it just -- and I don't want to talk about money, because it's not about money. It's about my son and the way that they've treated me during this whole process.

KING: All right, what have they done with regard to your son?

HYNIE: Well, they've...

KING: I mean he's James' son.

HYNIE: He's our son. He's locked him and I out -- out of our home. They have put it in probate and told me personally that I am unable to get any means to support my son until probate is over, and they're going to keep it in probate for five years or more. And I can't get any help to feed him and that I, you know, I -- what am I supposed to do?

They have taken the right from me to grieve my husband away from me by calling me Tami on the stage and by...

KING: Why do they hate you so?

HYNIE: I don't know. They hired Reverend Sharpton in then all of a sudden I was, from the stage, by Reverend Sharpton, told that this is not a place for your mess and told to move to the second aisle with my son.

KING: Wait. I don't understand something.

HYNIE: I've got the documentation...

KING: All right, you are the...

HYNIE: ... if you'd like to see it.

KING: You are the wife?

HYNIE: Yes. And they didn't ask me anything.

KING: Why weren't you in charge of the funeral?

HYNIE: Because they said that they -- no. Reverend Sharpton said from the pulpit, from the microphone above my husband's body, that the whole family had a part in arranging this funeral and the whole family did not, because the whole family ignored me. They never called me. In fact, they never even asked if their little brother needed something to eat or a place to sleep.

KING: Was he at the funeral?

HYNIE: He was at the second funeral, the one for the family, the one that I thought that we might get a little bit of, you know, hug. And they didn't even hug us when we walked in the room.

KING: Do you think -- you think this is about money?

HYNIE: I don't know what it's about. I just know it's wrong.

KING: Do you talk to them?

HYNIE: No, they won't talk to me. They won't answer my calls...

KING: But you said they broke bread with you right before the funeral.

HYNIE: No, they broke bread with me for years before my husband died. They...

KING: They were friendly all the time?

HYNIE: All the time. I would buy their children gifts. I would buy them gifts and say my husband got them for them. My husband would pay for them, but I would buy -- I bought -- Deana wore to the funeral something that I got her that her husband paid for, you know?

KING: We'll be right back with Tomi Rae Brown.

We'll also be including your phone calls.

Don't go away.





KING: Is it hard to watch him?

HYNIE: Is it hard to watch my husband? .

KING: Yes.

HYNIE: You know, I just want him back, but I can't have him back. But it's not hard to watch him because he's so great to watch. But I want him back, you know? I want him back. I can't have him back.

KING: We can do magic but we can't...

HYNIE: ... it's not hard to watch him.

KING: You're going to stay with whom?

HYNIE: I'm going to say with Athena (ph), who's the -- she's the -- my drummer in my band Hardly Dangerous.

KING: She's the sister...

HYNIE: She's the sister of Tommy Lee from Motley Crue and she's married to the drummer from The Scorpions. And they have a big mansion. And they're going to rent me...

KING: Put you up?

HYNIE: ... they're going to rent me out the bottom floor of their house until I find somewhere to live with my son. And there's a school right across the street. And it's in a very, very nice area.

KING: In California?

HYNIE: In California.

KING: Do you have any income?

HYNIE: My husband was so smart. He told me that the day he died to go to the bank and get something that he had left for me and my son.

KING: Safe deposit box?

HYNIE: No. It was left in an ITF under James Brown or Tomi Rae Brown for James Joseph Brown II and to get it immediately the next day.

KING: What was it?

HYNIE: It was a check for $80,000. And then he told me I would need it to take care of him until things went over. And then I also receive his Social Security -- my son receives his Social Security in my name, Tomi Rae Brown. Also, my son gets his Social Security for James Brown, Jr. And then I also get my husband's Social Security that will help me to get by until I get a job.

KING: We're going to include some calls for Tomi Rae Brown.

Bakersfield, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi. How are you, Larry?


CALLER: Thanks for having me.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Hi, Tomi.

I'm sorry about your loss. The world lost a great talent.

My question is about your son. And I was just curious, did -- does he show any of his father's musical abilities or talent? Does he like to dance? Does he like to sing? Does he like -- does he play a musical instrument?

And I'll hang up and listen.

HYNIE: Yes, he does. In fact, he's been on stage with us twice. If you get the video the of the 70th -- or the 72nd birthday of the Godfather of Soul at Disney World, you will see my son on stage dancing. He loves to dance and sing. Him and my husband used to play piano and my husband would play the low notes and my son would play the high notes. And he's -- you know, he tells me what to do and...

KING: How aware is he of the loss?

HYNIE: My son? At the funeral...

KING: Five is a difficult age.

HYNIE: He's five years old. At the funeral -- well, the day before the funeral he said, "Daddy's frozen."

And he said that because he would never look at the statue. He said, "No, Daddy's frozen -- I don't want to look at that." But then when he found out the first day he said, "Mommy, Daddy's frozen." And then the day of the funeral, he looked at me and I had him in my arms and he said, "Daddy's gone. Daddy's not coming back."

And I said, "No, son." And I said, "Do you want to go see him?"

And he said, "Yes." So we walked up to the casket and he glanced over and about three times and he said, "I can't, I can't." So I sat him down.

I didn't have him come the third day. I asked him if he wanted to. He said, "No, he didn't want to see Daddy." He only wanted to pray for Daddy at night. He couldn't see him anymore.

KING: Augusta, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Good evening. My question is for Tomi Rae regarding the funeral services, you know, that were held here in Augusta, the public service. And there appeared to be an altercation between, you know, Tomi and Reverend Al Sharpton. I just wanted to get her take on that because she obviously became very emotional and never did really respond.

KING: What happened?

HYNIE: Well, we were on the stage and my husband had received a doctrine from Paine College -- a doctorate...

KING: Doctorate.

HYNIE: ... from Paine College and he called up Deanna and Jamma and Nici (ph). He did not call me up. But I walked up anyway because my husband would have wanted it that way. And I walked up and I stood there...

KING: He got a doctorate posthumously, you mean?


KING: They were presenting it to him?

HYNIE: Yes. And my husband was very proud of it. He had known about it for a few months. He was very proud of it. And he -- Reverend Sharpton gave the cloak to one of them and he gave the hat to the other. And he gave the award to the other and he said, "As I sit and watch Tomi Rae cry behind me, I know that she would be happy knowing that Mr. Brown sees that his daughter get these doctrines."

And he looked around and he said to me, "See, I recognized you." And I said, "You still aren't going to give me the dignity of calling me his wife." And he said to me, "You see, I tried to be nice to you and look what you did. Now I ain't going to be nice to you know more. That's it."

And he turned around and I started crying tears, tears, tears. And I walked off the stage. That's when they told me that there was no more funeral and that I was to go this way. And that's when the eulogies were held and I wasn't able to say anything about my husband.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Tomi Rae Brown right after this.


REV. AL SHARPTON, EULOGIZED JAMES BROWN: And Peter, if you don't consider it too arrogant, I don't know too much yet about what you do in heaven, but if you have Sunday morning service, you ought to let James Brown sing tomorrow morning. I know you got angels that can sing, but they never had to shine shoes on Broad Street. They never had their heart broken. They never have been to jail for doing nothing wrong. They never had to cry because their friends betrayed them. They need to let James Brown sing tomorrow.




JAMES BROWN, SINGER: Education play a tremendous part. People can't deal with the system, even in prison. They go there and they come back in worser trouble than they were before. We got to educate our people. We got to educate our people because you can't do it if you don't know it.


KING: You have a favorite piece of James Brown music?

HYNIE: I love all of James Brown's music. I love the music that we recorded together.

KING: You got a documentary coming...

HYNIE: I do. It's called...

KING: It's called "Mr. and Mrs. Brown"?

HYNIE: It was. It was but now it's called "Me and Mr. Brown." And it's basically about my life before him with hardly dangerous, my life with doing the Janis Joplin deal and then my life when I met him and with him and him talking about me in the Janis film.

KING: What's his legacy going to be?

HYNIE: His legacy, what's it going to be? Well, I hope -- well it's going to be remembered forever, for all time.

KING: They'll be playing his music.

HYNIE: They'll be playing his music until the world does whatever it does, whether it's explodes or it's covered by water or whatever happens, resurrection, I believe that James Brown will be there.

KING: Do you think you're going to get your fair, just rewards here?

HYNIE: I think if there is a fair just person in the world, that they will see or that has anything to do with this, that I will.

KING: Wish you the best of luck, Tomi. HYNIE: Thank you so much Mr. King.

KING: I know this was hard for you.

HYNIE: It was. But I thank you so much for allowing me how much I love my husband.

KING: We know.

HYNIE: I'm fighting for him because he never would have stood for this.

KING: Thank you, dear, Tomi Rae Brown. And when we come back, we'll meet Debra Opri, who is James Brown's attorney and long-time friend, who will respond to some of what Tomi Rae had to say. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now is Debra Opri, James Brown attorney and long-time friend. What's the dispute here? She's married to him, what's the deal?

DEBRA OPRI, James BROWN'S ATTORNEY: There's no dispute. First of all, the family, as you know, was all set to come in here and pay a tribute to James Brown, the godfather. And her appearance greatly distressed them at the funeral. Her performance tonight, and no one dislikes her, but we honor the memory of James Brown and the family asked me to come on tonight and it's something I'm basically -- I'm not comfortable doing it, but we need to set it straight first.

KING: Set it straight.

OPRI: Tomi Rae and Mr. Brown were married, but Tomi Rae Hynie was married to someone else at the time she married James Brown and the marriage with Mr. Brown was annulled. There are many signed documents where in Ms. Hynie can't discuss the relationship of her and Mr. Brown and she does. She gave him a scathing review in the BBC and in a London newspaper and it's horrendous. It's a scavenge of his reputation.

She had a relationship with him as a companion. The family, Deanna, Lenecia (ph), Jamma, they did not not invite her. Tomi Rae was there, but Tomi Rae embarrassed herself and embarrassed the fans and the family the way she conducted herself.

KING: At the funeral?

OPRI: Yes. I was at the side stage with Reverend Sharpton and another thing, Reverend Sharpton was not hired. He was asked to, Jesse Jackson was asked to appear and officiate this. They've known Mr. Brown for many years.

And at the side of that stage, Tomi Rae was attempting to grab a microphone so she could perform at her own companion's funeral. And all I can tell you is it's an embarrassment that the family who is grieving and mourning for this man, and I'm grieving as well, it's an embarrassment that we have to be here doing this.

KING: She said that first marriage was never consummated and that he had three or more wives at the same time and that was never a marriage.

OPRI: He was an immigrant and she married him, and the marriage certificate that she showed you this evening, she has a collection, I'm sure. That's an opinion. It's very upsetting.

KING: So there was an official annulment?

OPRI: Yes, he files.

KING: But you're not denying that he loved her or they had a long relationship?

OPRI: James Brown loved Tomi Rae, but the last conversation Tomi Rae had with James Brown was that she didn't love him, she never loved him, she was just in it for the business arrangement.

Finally, Mr. Brown on his death bed, he was rushed to the hospital 23rd, 24th. Tomi Rae was at a retreat, rehab. Tomi Rae was seen at the Rainbow Grill at the Roosevelt Hotel partying on December 23rd while her husband, the godfather, was in a hospital dying. So that's what I say about this.

KING: Are you saying, Debra, that all these tears tonight were phony?

OPRI: I was not impressed with Tomi Rae's performance tonight. I was totally not impressed with Tomi Rae's performance during the funeral. I was embarrassed for the James Brown family.

KING: But from her side, didn't she have a right to speak at this funeral? I mean, logically. Wouldn't she have been scheduled to speak? Shouldn't she have been scheduled? Mother of his child.

OPRI: You know, you're asking -- that's another issue. James Brown intentionally did not do any DNA testing of that child during his life. And there was a reason for it. And he uttered comments to his attorneys before he died and he said, when I'm gone, get it done so my family knows.

Now, I'm not making allegations. I'm not here to disparage Tomi Rae but what she did with the BBC and the London newspaper and here again tonight and at the funeral is inappropriate to the memory of James Brown, the godfather of soul and it should stop because she is contractually obligated not to discuss the business and personal issues of James Brown.

He had a legacy and he has a trust and the trust was created in 2000. And Buddy Dallas, who I've known many years and Mr. Cannon, the CFO as well as Deanna Brown, they're all trustees. Mr. Brown's legacy is to help and educate the underprivileged children of this country. His money in that trust will go for that legacy and all the trustees will make sure of that. KING: How -- she didn't put him down tonight, did she? Put James Brown down?

OPRI: Nobody said that she put James Brown down tonight. She's done it in the BBC, speaking about the personal issues of arthritic conditions and sexual issues. I just think it's inappropriate to the memory of James Brown and I adored James Brown and I've known him for 15 years and you've known him a long time, too.

We all have our imperfections, we all have our demons. But he was a tremendous human being. And he as recently as a few days before his death was handing out toys to poor children in Augusta and I commend the family for supporting him.

KING: Are you saying the young man isn't his child?

OPRI: I'm saying it's an issue that's going to be resolved very shortly.

KING: But he took care of the child, that's a statement in itself, right?

OPRI: Mr. Brown took care of many people.

KING: But he did take care of this child.

OPRI: And whether he held the child out as his own or not, that's going to be an issue for the courts if it ever gets there. But there are many signed documents and Tomi Rae is well aware of what she signed. And what she needs to understand is the documents she signed and how she held herself out and how she conducted herself, it stops now. Mr. Brown deserves the respect in death.

KING: What about the $80,000 check for the boy?

OPRI: If it does exist and she got it, enjoy it.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) I Mean, do you have any sympathy for her?

OPRI: I feel for Tomi Rae. I've known Tomi Rae since she came into the picture. And it was not a good vision of who she was, the way she conducted herself backstage. I didn't like or dislike her. I reserved judgment because she was Mr. Brown's companion.

I also know that Charles Bobbitt, who I admire immensely, you know, he discussed many things on many occasions and he was with Mr. Brown when he died. And Mr. Bobbitt can best say that Mr. Brown loved her, but there are issues. There are issues.

KING: When will the will be read? When will this be straightened out?

OPRI: Well, Tomi Rae needs to accept certain legal realities. And she needs to accept that the family, the family has no ax to grind with her. The family has no problems with her. The family doesn't hate her. The family had her to the funeral. But Tomi Rae must understand her place in Mr. Brown's life.

KING: No date certain here for resolution?

OPRI: You know, everything will evolve as it evolves. But the trust will also ensure that James Brown's estate turns into a museum much like Graceland with a mausoleum. And what I'm very proud to say, and this is something that needs to be known, the Godfather of Soul protected his legacy and the trustees will protect his legacy. Finally, the gate. The gate was locked. Tomi Rae took a camera crew down there and photographed herself throwing herself at the gate. Her son, who does not live with her -- the son has been residing with her mother for quite some time while Tomi Rae's been spending more and more time in L.A. But Tomi Rae threw herself at a locked gate, a locked gate for security reasons, which no one could enter because the public, the fans were coming to the estate at that time. So it was not locked for Tomi Rae.

KING: Thank you, Debra.

OPRI: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Debra Opri, long time attorney and friend of James Brown.

Up next, The American sailor who was adrift off the coast of South America, no help for hunts of miles. We'll talk to his loved ones about the phone calls he's able to make to them from the far South Pacific. That's next.

As we go to break, James Brown's companion Tomi Rae Brown, singing at his funeral.






CATHY CHAMBERS, KEN BARNES' GIRLFRIEND: Hello. Can you -- are you warm?

KEN BARNES, ADRIFT IN PACIFIC: A survival battle unfolds over a satellite phone link between Cathy Chambers in Newport Beach and her boyfriend Ken Barnes, alone and adrift aboard his 44-foot sailboat, dismasted in a Pacific Storm 480 miles off the South American coast.

CHAMBERS: The helicopter will be there tomorrow.


KING: Joining us now, in Newport Beach, California is Cathy Chambers, Ken Barnes' long time girlfriend and Teryn Barnes and Brittney Barnes, Ken Barnes' daughters. Cathy how many time have you spoken to him? When did you get the last call?

CHAMBERS: The last call I got was at 5:26 this evening. And I've spoken to him probably about six times starting at 4:40 yesterday afternoon.

KING: And what did he say at 5:26 tonight?

CHAMBERS: He -- the P-3 that flew over him, he was able to wave at them. He saw them. They dropped the supplies. It did not make it on the boat. But he has a cut on his leg. He had a Pop Tart and he's -- the boat is not sinking. He's OK.

Of course, he doesn't know any of this is going on, but he still thinks that a helicopter is on the way because we were told originally that one was and then found out about three hours ago that the boats that are coming are not suited for helicopters, or the boat that was coming from the Chilean navy is not big enough for it or something.

KING: Do we know why, Teryn that we cannot get a helicopter there?

TERYN BARNES, DAUGHTER OF KEN BARNES: I don't know. It's just frustrating that we can't do anything about it. It's just taking so long, taking way too long.

KING: Brittney, is this the decision of the Chilean government?



B. BARNES: ... we had heard that there was a helicopter on one of the vessels that was going out there, but then come to find out there wasn't one.

KING: Cathy, what was he trying to do, sail around the world?

CHAMBERS: Yes, he was trying to be first U.S. West Coast citizen to sail to circumnavigate the world nonstop alone.

KING: What happened to the boat?

CHAMBERS: The boat lost both of its masts. It lost its steering wheel. Some of the hatches have been broken. It does have some water in it. It is not sinking. He's still able to use the boat, you know. He's still on the boat...

KING: When...

CHAMBERS: ... no electricity.

KING: Teryn, when can they get to him?

T. BARNES: I think it's tomorrow evening they can get to him. That's the soonest, but that's not good enough.

B. BARNES: We need a helicopter.

KING: Because? He can't hold out that long or the ship will sink? What?

T. BARNES: Well, no. I mean, we just -- you know, he thinks that there's a helicopter coming. We haven't told him that there is not one coming yet. I mean, he's scared. He -- you know, we need to rescue him.

KING: Since the helicopter...

T. BARNES: He's hanging in there.

KING: But if the boats make it in time, what will -- what will be the problem if the boats get there tomorrow night, Cathy?

CHAMBERS: I understand that if the weather starts to shift again, the boat could roll and then would have to, hopefully, evacuate to the life raft. So, the weather is supposed to be turning. It's turning good right now, but it's supposed to be turning back again for the worst.

KING: How are his supplies?

CHAMBERS: He has plenty of water. He can't really get to food, so, I mean, he hasn't really been eating that much. But, like I said, he did -- when he called us, told us he just had a Pop Tart.

KING: Teryn, is he scared?

T. BARNES: Very scared. He's not one to get scared so it was frightening to hear he was so scared and he needed help.

KING: Brittney, has the Chilean government been nonresponsive?

B. BARNES: They have been responsive, but, just like I said about the helicopters, we're not sure what that was all about. But there was supposed to be a helicopter on one of the boats. And there is not.

T. BARNES: They have been trying -- they have been contacting us pretty much, you know, every couple of hours to let us know the status of what's been happening, as well as the Adelemeida (ph) Coast Guard in the San Francisco area.

KING: Do the phone calls sound clear, Cathy?

CHAMBERS: The last one was the longest one. You know, yesterday when he first called me, it was not clear. All I could hear was, "I've turned on the Eperb (ph). Call the Coast Guard."

And then I was cut off. And then finally the Miami Coast guard called. KING: We'll be checking with you again tomorrow. Cathy Chambers, Teryn Barnes and Brittney Barnes. And we wish him Godspeed and much good fortune.

We turn the tables to New York City. Anderson Cooper stands by to host "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.


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