R.I.P. Chuck Brown – Godfather of Go-Go

As I was walking down 14th Street yesterday afternoon I heard no less than six cars blasting Chuck Brown’s music. It was beautiful.

The Mayor’s Office issued a press release:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today expressed his profound sadness upon hearing the news that D.C. native Chuck Brown, the singer and musician who came to be affectionately known as the “Godfather of Go-go,” has died.

“Go-go is D.C.’s very own unique contribution to the world of pop music, and Chuck Brown was regarded as Go-go’s creator and, arguably, its most legendary artist,” Mayor Gray said. “Today is a very sad day for music lovers the world over, but especially in the District of Columbia. Without Chuck Brown, the world – and our city – will be a different place. What a loss!

I am thankful that I had so many opportunities to witness Chuck’s singular talent in person, and I enjoyed each performance immensely. My heart, my thoughts and my prayers go out to his family.”

Chuck Brown was born in Washington. His musical career began in the 1960s as he played guitar with multiple bands, including Jerry Butler and the Earls of Rhythm and Los Latinos. His solo career took off in the 1970s as Go-go, a subgenre of funk music that originated with performers and clubs in and around the District, began to gain national popularity. His early work included hits like “Bustin’ Loose,” and pop-music historians generally consider Mr. Brown one of the main driving forces behind Go-go’s creation. He continued to play in the Washington area and elsewhere until recently, when he canceled an appearance at the newly refurbished Howard Theatre due to illness.

Last night The Howard Theatre hosted candlelight vigil for Chuck Brown. “Mr. Brown was slated to play The Howard Theatre on June 29, and had played the theatre often.”

Photo by LaVan Anderson for The Howard Theatre

18 Comment

  • RIP to the Godfather of Go-Go. DC lost a treasure yesterday.

    According to the Washington Post, however, Chuck Brown was born in NC, not in Washington.

    • Most African Americans living in DC after the thirties and forties have strong roots to North Carolina due to black migrations to the Capitol. DC has always been his home.

      • no matter, he was still BORN in NC… facts are facts

        • I agree, Anonymous. Chuck Brown is a North Carolinian because he was born in Gaston, North Carolina making him a native. I didn’t care for Go Go music. However, I did enjoy listening to ‘Doin the Butt’ and ‘Bustin Loose’. RIP Chuck Brown and Donna Summer. I liked Donner Summer Disco music of the seventies. I am a big Motown, Delfonics, Blue Magic, Chicago, Mamas and Papas, Looking Glass, Stylistics, Intruders, Moments, Marvin Gaye fan.

          Native Black Washingtonian
          Born in Freedmans Hospital 1955

  • That’s a beautiful photo of the Howard Theatre.

  • Those of us born and raised in DC will always have a special place in our hearts for GoGo… it brings us back home wherever we happen to wander. that distinctive beat will always make a Washingtonian get up and move… and the beat goes on and on and on… Go Go Go…. RIP Chuck Brown. This city will miss you.

  • R.I.P. to the Godfather of Go-Go. I know they cranking up there in heaven.

  • R.I.P. Donna Summers as well.

  • Didn’t James Brown also die from Pneumonia? I’m not trying to raise any conspiracy theories, but what a coincidence!

  • He performed at Cardozo High School (for free! The event was the closing of the school for their big renovation) in March or April. I wonder if it was his last performance?

  • I was at the Howard last night and it was absolutely beautiful. A wonderful way to celebrate a life well lived.

  • So grateful that I got to see him perform at the Capitol (some concert or other on the lawn). Now THAT was a PERFORMANCE!

  • Thank you POP for letting us know that a great man has left us. I was hoping that you would include something on your web page.

    RIP Chuck and as always “Wind Me Up Chuck”

  • I got to back up Chuck Brown once (as a guitar player, getting to do the Chuck guitar chuck intro for the man himself was about as thrilling as it gets), and he was the nicest, kindest gentleman I have ever met. He was one hell of a musician and guitarist as well; even though he is famous for gogo, he could play and sing jazz standards with the best of ’em…

Comments are closed.