John Cox called out the nickname "Boggie!" after entering the slightly open front door of Boggie's business Tuesday. Finding nothing up front, Cox said he walked to the back of the store and heard, "Help me. Help me."
Boggie, Johnny W. King legally but always "Boggie" to his family and his native Rock Hill and the music-loving world lay on the floor, Cox said. Boggie was surrounded by blood with both eyes swollen, Cox said.
"He kept repeating it, 'Help me,'" said Cox, who said he has known Boggie as a customer and friend for about 10 years. "I saw how he was left to die."
Cox said he first comforted King, then dashed next door to Drum's Tire to ask someone to call 911.
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Rock Hill Police confirmed Wednesday the beating of the 67-year-old King, a maestro of the funk six string well known for his short stature not much over 5 feet tall. King's family and friends were stunned over what King's niece, Maxine Wylie, called "a senseless beating."
King said her uncle is in the trauma unit and will require reconstructive and plastic surgery on his face.
"It's a shock that someone would do this," said Wylie, who described her uncle as a generous man without an enemy.
King remained in fair condition Wednesday at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, a hospital representative said.
The case, described in police reports as assault and battery with intent to kill, kidnapping and armed robbery, remains under investigation, said Rock Hill Police Lt. Jerry Waldrop. The beating was "an extremely violent attack," Waldrop said, but police have not had the chance to talk to King to get details about the attack or what was taken.
Workers at Drum's Tire next door to King's business at 811 W. Main St. told police that a young man was at Drum's before King's store opened Tuesday morning, asking about a television, according to Waldrop and police reports. The young man asked if he could wait for King and even asked for a cigarette, said Mike Maners from Drum's.
Police describe the man as a black man between the ages of 18-21, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, 130 pounds, wearing black clothing with red on the front and a dark hat with red on the front. Waldrop described that man as "a person of interest" because police know the man was at Drum's "asking about Boggie."
Another Drum's employee, George Sexton, said he ran to help after Cox came to the store and found Boggie was "cut up real bad."
Word quickly spread among King's friends about the attack. King played in England as recently as 2007 with the funk band Fatback, a band he's recorded more than 20 albums with over decades. One album made gold-record status after selling more than a half-million copies, and one of King's songs, "Yum Yum," has been a hit in Europe for years. One of his bandmates once described King's European status as "a big star."
King has a grown son, Jazmon, who was contacted at his Navy base in Japan and is en route to Rock Hill, said Wylie, King's niece.
Bobby Plair Sr., whose Rock Hill band King started with in 1959, had been rehearsing recently with King and others in preparation for concerts next month. Plair was incensed over the attack, saying King was generous to a fault.
"I hope they catch this joker," Plair said.
Another longtime King friend, Tim Wilson, said he stops at the electronics store several times a week. "It is depressing somebody would do this," Wilson said. "He would give you anything."
The people at Drum's Tire have known King for years as a gracious neighbor. Maners said whoever would do this to Boggie, "is a person with no heart."
Cox, the friend and customer who found and tried to help Boggie, said, "He plays a wicked guitar. And I hope he can again."
Anyone with information about the attack on Johnny W. "Boggie" King is asked to call Rock Hill Police at 329-7293, or Crimestoppers at 1-877- 409-4321.
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