BAMBERG - Gospel singer Dennis Bowers sang that he had the Holy Ghost in his hands, he had the Holy Ghost in his feet. When he went home last week, he had God in his eyes.
"You came here today because you heard Dennis Bowers died," said Rev. Dr. Douglass E. Franklin. "I hate to be the one to disappoint you, but Dennis Bowers is not dead."
Toes tapped and hands clapped, hats tipped and hips dipped as Bowers' Gospel group, the Legendary Singing Stars, paid tribute to the man those close to him called Pops.
More than 1,200 friends and family gathered at the Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School gym Saturday to say goodbye to the longtime singer and father of Clemson All-Star DaQuan Bowers.
"He was a wonderful dad from the time I can remember DaQuan playing," said B-E Principal Randy Maxwell. "As a daddy, he was always there. They were close."
That fact didn't escape Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of the Tigers, who loaded up two buses and traveled to Bamberg for visitation Friday night.
Bowers was ranked as the ESPN number one college football prospect in the nation for 2008 after graduating from B-E.
Pops Bowers began a musical career that spanned nearly 40 years, joining the Sensational Four when he was 13. Through that career, Bowers met Tommy Ellison of the Legendary Singing Stars. When the latter passed, Bowers was made lead singer.
"This man, because of this man, I left Bamberg and traveled to Los Angeles and all over the world," said Curtis Franklin, Bowers' nephew.
Bowers' last concert was on Aug. 1. He passed away a week later. He was 51.
Saturday's service was a celebration, a celebration of the life of a man who introduced some to God and renewed the Holy Spirit to others.
In the bleachers and on the basketball court, those who knew Pops Bowers raised hands and swayed to the rhythm of Gospel groups Little David and the Bells of Joy along with Darrell McFadden and the Disciples.
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DaQuan Bowers, also a member of the Legendary Singing Stars, played an acoustical guitar solo in tribute to his father.
"Every since I was a little boy, all I ever wanted to do was play," said DaQuan before smiling, and adding, "he said, ‘You're not good enough.'"
Appreciating the humor, and the courage to play for his dad, the audience gave a standing ovation.
Pops Bowers' friends and relatives described the man they say is singing a new song as a "way maker," a man who never said never.
"When he gave his word, he gave his heart," said Paula Copeland, Bowers' niece. "And believe me, his heart was big enough."
A fellow band member and friend, Joseph Ricks said he initially believed Bowers to be too young to be called home.
"And the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘What is wrong with having joy early? What is wrong with having peace?'" Ricks said.
Franklin described as a "one of a kind," saying, "What kind of man would bring the entire football team of Clemson to Bamberg?"
Bowers' earthly body, Franklin said, was simply the shell that once contained the man. His spirit has gone to a better place where he now harmonizes with angels.
"You aren't looking at Dennis Bowers," Franklin said. " And guess what? He's singing songs that he never sang before."
He may have sang that he had the Holy Ghost in his hands and in his feet. But those who knew Pops Bowers best say he had God where it counted the most - in his heart.
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