Soul crooner Ray Charles is being remembered as he's buried in Los Angeles today (18JUN04) - by coffee company STARBUCKS.

The company will play Charles' music throughout the day in cafes across America, and the firm's bosses have placed a fullpage ad in trade paper DAILY VARIETY to mark his passing.

The simple ad, which features Charles' shadowed head on a black background, reads, "We won't stop loving you. Thank you, Ray Charles, for a lifetime of music."

Charles funeral procession, past his beloved Los Angeles studio - which became a city landmark earlier this year (04), ended at the FIRST AME CHURCH, where mourners like Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Mathis, CLINT EASTWOOD, Glen Campbell and Bb King honoured him during an uplifting two-hour service, during which they performed for their late friend.

Nelson broke hearts as he sobbed his way through Charles' classic GEORGIA ON MY MIND.

Other written tributes from an ailing Billy Preston, who was too ill to attend the service, Bill Clinton, Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby were read at the funeral, which lured 1,500 people to the church.

Jones, who was in Russia, insisted Charles' tune MY BUDDY, which he produced, be played at the service. The song ended with Charles stating, "I love you Quincy."

REVD JESSE JACKSON was among those offering eulogies to Charles. He told the mourners, "His face should be etched on the mountain... Ray, we can't stop loving you."

Charles' friend Clint Eastwood also delivered a eulogy after confessing, "I'm here to join the chorus." He gave a short speech, which ended with, "I was very proud to be his friend."

The legendary singer/songwriter died last week (10/11JUN04) after developing problems from a liver disease.

18/06/2004 19:35