WGBH cameraman Frank Lane dies; recorded historic James Brown concert

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Frank Lane, a WGBH cameraman and studio engineer for more than three decades, died June 28. He was 74 years old. A cause of death was not released.

Lane worked at the Boston public broadcaster from 1968 through his retirement in 2003. He was also a former president of NABET-CWA Local 18.

In an online tribute, Marcus Jones, a reporter for The Ten O’Clock News from 1986­–91, recalled learning a surprising fact from Lane.

The two were on a shoot in 1989, covering soul singer James Brown’s imprisonment in South Carolina on charges of aggravated assault in connection with a police chase. As they were preparing for an interview, Lane told Jones that he was one of the cameramen on the crew that recorded Brown’s historic 1968 concert at Boston Garden. The show was widely credited with keeping the city calm the day after Martin Luther King was killed. WGBH broadcast the concert live, and the station still had the reels in its archives, Lane told Jones.

“My brain almost popped out of my head — not just because I’m one of the biggest James Brown fans in the world, but because any full-length recording of James Brown in concert in his prime is rare,” Jones recalled. Jones found the video and used it in his report, which prompted BET and Say Brother (now Basic Black), WGBH’s African-American public affairs show, to request the concert footage.

Ultimately, the footage turned into a 2008 documentary, The Night James Brown Saved Boston. “I credit that conversation with Frank Lane for bringing that forgotten video treasure to light,” Jones said.

Francis Lane was the youngest of 11 children born to Thomas M. and Nora (Cunningham) Lane in West Roxbury, Mass.

He is survived by his wife Nancy, son Ryan and daughter Elizabeth; sister-in-law Ronnie; and several nieces and nephews.

His funeral service took place July 3, with burial at Highland Cemetery in Norwood.

The family suggests memorial donations to Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod Hospice, 434 Route 134, South Dennis, MA 02660.