George Brown, Kool & the Gang co-founder and drummer, dies at 74


George Brown, a founding member of Kool & the Gang who performed drums with the band and co-wrote such enduring requirements as “Celebration,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Women Evening,” died of lung most cancers in L.A. on Wednesday. He was 74.

His loss of life was introduced by a consultant from the band’s report firm.

Brown began enjoying with the seven musicians who grew to become Kool & the Gang in 1964, in Jersey Metropolis, N.J. They woodshedded for almost a decade earlier than the group lastly had a breakout hit with the riotous “Jungle Boogie” in 1973. Over the following dozen years, that they had 25 Billboard R&B Prime 10 hits, evolving from funk to disco to quiet storm.

They crossed over into the pop charts quite a few instances, reaching the Prime 10 throughout the heyday of disco with “Women’ Evening,” “Too Scorching,” “Get Down on It” and “Celebration” — all songs that includes vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor — then placing a softer, smoother be aware with the following “Joanna” and “Cherish.” All through all of it, Brown anchored the group as its drummer, creating rhythms that earned him the nickname “Funky” and had been sampled by hip-hop and pop artists together with A Tribe Referred to as Quest, the Beastie Boys, Madonna, De La Soul, N.W.A and Cypress Hill.

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George Brown (prime row, proper) and Kool & the Gang circa 1970.

(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photos)

The group’s songs usually appeared on movie and tv soundtracks — Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” notably used “Jungle Boogie” — and remained staples on the radio into the 2020s.

Born on Jan. 15, 1949, Brown was drawn to his instrument at an early age, drumming on home goods with butter knives earlier than he obtained his first drum package. As he grew, he cultivated an appreciation for such jazz drummers as Artwork Blakey, Buddy Wealthy and Elvin Jones. Brown lived in the identical constructing as Ricky West, a keyboardist who launched the drummer to saxophonist Ronald Bell and trumpeter Robert Mickens. The quartet began gigging as a jazz combo within the early Nineteen Sixties and so they retained the title Jazziacs after increasing the group to characteristic Ronald’s brother Robert “Kool” Bell on keyboards, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas on saxophone and guitarist Charles Smith. As they performed all through New York Metropolis, they ran by means of a variety of names, together with the New Dimensions, the Soul City Band — which was a moniker for his or her Motown covers act — and Kool & the Flames, earlier than adopting Kool & the Gang in 1969.

Signing with De-Lite Information, Kool & the Gang launched an instrumental self-titled debut in 1970. Whereas the group retained jazz parts — its 1972 album “Good Instances” contained a tribute to John Coltrane — it moved steadily towards funk, incorporating singing by the point it launched its fourth album, “Wild and Peaceable,” in 1973. The addition of joint vocals fueled “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging,” the singles that introduced the group their first R&B and pop hits.

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Kool & the Gang in 1978, from left, Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Ronald Khalis Bell, George Brown, Robert “Kool” Bell and Claydes Smith.

(Richard E. Aaron/Redferns through Getty Photos)

Kool & the Gang stayed on the R&B charts by means of the mid-Seventies due to hits “Spirit of the Boogie,” “Caribbean Competition” and “Love and Understanding (Come Collectively),” but regardless of the group’s inclusion on the soundtrack to the era-defining “Saturday Evening Fever” in 1977, it had problem adjusting to the onset of disco within the late Seventies. The band revived its fortunes in 1979 by including vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor and hiring Eumir Deodato — a Brazilian disco producer who had a success in 1974 with a glitterball revision of “Additionally Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” — to helm “Women’ Evening.” The mixture of Taylor’s easy vocals and Deodato’s fashionable manufacturing introduced Kool & the Gang a collection of large crossover hits throughout the late Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. “Celebration” grew to become an all-purpose anthem, the unofficial soundtrack to the return of the Iran hostages in 1981 and infrequently heard at sporting occasions, weddings and bar mitzvahs all through the last decade and past.

The softer “Joanna” and “Recent,” fashionable on grownup modern radio, marked the band’s final blush with the pop charts. Taylor left the group on the finish of the Nineteen Eighties, the primary in a collection of revolving departures that lasted over the following many years. Together with Robert “Kool” Bell and Thomas, Brown lasted by means of each incarnation of Kool & the Gang into the 2020s, sticking with the group by means of the reunion and anniversary excursions, in addition to a slot opening for Van Halen in 2012.

Over the course of its profession, Kool & the Gang received two Grammy Awards and had been inducted into the Songwriters Corridor of Fame in 2018.

In the course of the closing yr of his life, Brown produced Kool & the Gang’s “Folks Simply Wish to Have Enjoyable” album and printed his memoir, “Too Scorching: Kool & the Gang and Me.”

Brown is survived by his spouse, Hanh Brown, and his kids Dorian Melvin Brown, Jorge Lewis Brown, Gregory Brown, Jordan Xuan Clarence Brown and Aaron Tien Joseph Brown.


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