George ‘Funky’ Brown, Kool & The Gang Drummer, Dead at 74

George ‘Funky’ Brown, Kool & The Gang Drummer, Dead at 74

George Brown, founding member and drummer of Kool & The Gang, died Thursday night in Los Angeles, after a battle with cancer. He was 74. 

Brown, along with founding members Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, Woodrow “Woody” Sparrow and Ricky West, formed Kool & The Gang, a unique musical blend of jazz, soul and funk. Brown became one of the band’s main songwriters, co-writing many of the band’s iconic songs, including “Ladies Night,” “Too Hot,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Summer Madness,” “Open Sesame,” “Celebration,” “Cherish” and others. 

The band officially launched in 1969, and 54 years later, the band has become a true Funk, Soul and R&B legend.

In all, the group has earned two GRAMMY Awards, seven American Music Awards, a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums to date. They’ve been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and sold 7.5 million albums in the U.S. and more than 70 million worldwide. 

Brown’s signature drumming on the early Kool & The Gang recordings has been heavily sampled by countless artists across all genres, ranging from the Beastie Boys, JAY-Z, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill, P. Diddy, DJ Kool, Mase, Too Short, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Boogie Down Productions, Brand Nubian, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, N.W.A., Kris Kross, Jermaine Dupri and The Killers.

Courtesy of KTFA Entertainment Inc 

Brown toured with Kool & The Gang until he retired in August.

In July, his memoir, Too Hot: Kool & The Gang And Me, was released. Speaking with NPR at the time, the drummer described his music as “the sound of happiness.”

Speaking of the band’s changes over the year, Brown added, “It’s the chemistry. If the chemistry is there, bingo, it works. And you want to make it happen, and you want to see people happy, and you want to be successful with it. And you want to help create a culture, a world culture, where people come together with that music. That music is bringing people together and making this one-world culture greater than it was before.”

“And when you do music that’s happy music, that’s what it does. It brings people to the clubs to have a good time. And that’s what we do. We say our prayer before we leave, and we say, let’s go make some people happy,” he concluded.

The late drummer is survived by his wife, Hanh Brown, and his children, Dorian Melvin Brown, Jorge Lewis Brown, Gregory Brown, Jordan Xuan Clarence Brown and Aaron Tien Joseph Brown.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to the Lung Cancer Society of America.

TMZ was the first to report his death. 


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