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

by Prince Of Petworth May 17, 2012 at 11:00 am 18 Comments

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

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