After suffering from complications with sepsis, Chuck Brown passed away in Baltimore yesterday at 75 years old. Washington D.C.’s music legend played a major hand in shaping 1970’s culture by melding together a new sub-genre of funk, known as go-go.
An ex-con, Brown traded some cigarettes for a guitar in prison and once he was released, he dabbled in music groups to explore this passion for tunes.
In 1966, Brown formed his own band, the Soul Searchers, topping the R&B charts with the go-go hit “Bustin’ Loose” in 1978. He was also revered for early jams like “We Need Some Money,” as well as go-go-styled revampings of songs such as “Go-Go Swing” and “Run Joe.” He invented an infectious performance style, amped with call-and-response routines as he played DJ with a hybrid of Latin, funk, and disco sounds.
Despite his Washington-based successes, Brown wasn’t nominated for a Grammy Award until 2011 — for best rhythm-and-blues performance by a duo or group with vocals for “Love,” in collaboration with Jill Scott and Marcus Miller.
Towards the end, Brown was also honored with a Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005. He leaves behind a musical legacy and a segment of Seventh Street in the District, formally named “Chuck Brown Way.”
Want a sample of his direct influence in today’s hip-hop scene? Check for pieces of Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose” in Nelly’s 2002 hit “Hot in Herre.”