'Boggie' is improving, but he still needs help

Boggie is getting better.

But Rock Hill's legendary musician Johnny "Boggie" King has a long road to recovery after a Feb. 26 attack, family members said Tuesday. And the community will have a chance to help Boggie at an early April concert.

King, 67, was bound and beaten last month at his electronics repair shop on West Main Street, police said. He had surgery Tuesday to reconstruct an eye socket, niece Maxine Wylie said, where titanium plates were used to replace shattered bones. Another surgery is planned for next week, when King's eye will be worked on to make sure it fits properly into the new socket, Wylie said.

"We all have hope he won't lose the eye," she said.

The Rock Hill man charged with assault and battery with intent to kill, kidnapping and armed robbery in the attack, Lagerald Dickerson, 19, remains in the county detention center without bond, jail officials said Tuesday.

King is a legendary character in Rock Hill, only about 4 feet, 9 inches tall with a reputation as somebody who can fix anything with an electrical cord attached. Yet, his international reputation is as a guitarist who has played as far away as Japan and Europe since the 1970s with the New York-based funk group Fatback. After the beating, the outpouring of affection and calls to help King started in Rock Hill and spanned the seas.

"I can only describe the love as awesome," Wylie said. "I've heard from people who used to dance to his music so long ago in Rock Hill, the dance floor was dirt, and they remembered the red clay dust all the way up to their knees. I've heard from England, New York, so many places. I didn't know how famous he really was until this happened."

Bill Curtis, Fatback's founder who lives in Fayetteville, N.C., said Tuesday of his friend and musical cohort of four decades: "Without Johnny, there is no Fatback."

Curtis said he's heard from people over the Internet from Europe and New York inquiring about King. He plans to ask the group to dedicate to King an upcoming tour of Germany and England on which King was supposed to play.

"He's an icon," Curtis said. "A legend in this business."

But Boggie has to pay for medical procedures that are not covered by Medicare, Wylie said. Further, Boggie has lost his income since the beating, she said.

Rock Hill's June Barnette, a longtime friend of the family, is one of many who have offered to help coordinate a musical benefit April 5 at First Cavalry Baptist Church. The offers have come from black and white, young and old, rich and not-so-rich, Barnette said, showing the wide range of influence King has had on people in his city.

"So many people have asked me, 'What can I do?' that we've decided to hold this show for Boggie while we all have a chance to help out."

Barnette and Wylie expect area musicians, maybe even acts with national reputations, to offer to play.

On the international music scene, King literally put Rock Hill on the map. So, there is the challenge. Who will step up and help Boggie? Who will strap on the guitar or play the drums and jam for the best of causes? Who will donate time or money? Who will help do for Boggie what Boggie did all his life -- bring joy to somebody else?

I hope I can write another story that says it's all of us.