Andrew Dys

'Boggie' doing better, but some wounds won't heal

Johnny "Boggie" King is recovering after a severe beating at his business in Rock Hill in late February. A funk guitar legend, he's had two surgeries to repair his left eye.
Johnny "Boggie" King is recovering after a severe beating at his business in Rock Hill in late February. A funk guitar legend, he's had two surgeries to repair his left eye.

Johnny "Boggie" King has a headache.

"Sometimes, I wake up, my head is spinnin' all around," King said.

The words of a senior citizen, a father and grandfather set to turn 68 Saturday. A funk guitar legend from right here in Rock Hill, known around the world for his music, and around town for his generosity and grace.

And he's now known as a crime victim.

His noggin hurts because somebody beat him over the head, tied him up and robbed him Feb. 26 at his electronics repair shop on West Main Street. The beating was so bad King has needed two surgeries -- so far -- to repair his left eye. That eye is now covered with a patch.

King talked Monday about the beating.

"I turned my head, he grabbed me and hit me," King said. "The first big blow, I felt I'd never been hit so hard in my life."

King said the assailant demanded, "Where's the money?"

King recalled lying on the floor at the rear of his shop.

"I thought I would die," he remembered.

But this tiny man, 4 feet 8 inches tall maybe, who has wowed audiences as far as England and Japan for more than four decades, didn't die.

A friend and customer found and helped him that morning. Neighbors from the tire store next door helped, too. A couple of days after the beating, Rock Hill's Lagerald Dickerson, 19, was charged with the crime. Dickerson remains in the county jail without bond, jail officials said Monday.

Since the beating, "Boggie" King has received goodwill from music fans, customers of his shop and others. He needs it, and more. King lost his shop income when he was beaten. He lost a European tour with his "Fatback" band.

A few hundred dollars has been donated by nice people to an account set up for King to help pay medical and other bills, said a great-niece, Alethea Watson.

"Enough to pay the light bill," King said. That's what crime does to the great among us, the "Boggie" Kings -- takes away the ability to keep your electricity on.

The news of the beating stunned Rock Hill. People stop him and family.

"One lady at Radio Shack, she called out, 'Boggie, we been praying for you!'" Watson said. "We were in traffic, and an old man honked and gave us the thumbs up. My uncle has touched a lot of people in his life."

So many people have been touched that a benefit concert with area musicians by the handful is set for April 5 at First Calvary Baptist Church.

King comes from an old Rock Hill music scene that he helped create. Before the Main Street shop, he had a repair store at the triangular intersection of Dave Lyle Boulevard and Crawford and Friedheim roads. The door to the store below and his apartment upstairs was always open. The music drifted out onto the streets for all to enjoy.

Just Saturday, some old-friend musicians decided to play to raise a few dollars for King. Outdoors, "Under the Tree" in the Boyd Hill neighborhood, where music jams have been part of the great joy of black people's lives for generations. Fish were fried and hot dogs served. The dollars and fivespots and tenners and $20s came out of pockets.

"Put on my shiny pants and my pretty shirt, never got so many hugs in my life," King said. "Lord, it was beautiful. I thank everybody for all the prayers, everything."

King does not spend days wasting time on the Internet and claiming to make friends with faceless people who Web surf instead of doing work or living life. King's electronics shop always had an open door. The topic of conversation was sometimes electronics, most times music, all times sharing life. Anybody could stop and hang, and they did.

"White, black, Hispanic, all of 'em came in," King said. "I miss them all."

People would sit, talk, listen. Rufus Williams, a longtime drummer and friend, visited King on Monday, like he has many times since King was hurt. Like he used to at the shop.

"You can't trust people like in the old days," Williams said.

"I know, but I always ran a friendly shop," King said. "I guess I can't turn my back on anyone any more."

What was lost Feb. 26 is not just eyesight and income. The loss of a lifetime of faith in fellow men might be the worst loss of all. And no doctor or passed hat can fix that.