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Chuck Brown

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  • Born: Washington D.C.
  • Died: Baltimore, MD
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

Washington, D.C., bandleader, performer, and songwriter Chuck Brown was a prominent figure on the city's go-go scene since the late '70s. Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers were also one of the rare go-go acts to gain national attention, even though they were short-lived. The Soul Searchers included trombonist/keyboardist John "JB" Buchanan, trumpeter Donald Tillery, saxophonist/flutist Leroy Fleming, bassist Jerry Wilder, percussionist Gregory Gerran, organist Curtis Johnson, keyboardist Skip Fennell, drummer Ricardo Wellman, and guitarist LeRon Young. They vaulted into the spotlight with "Busting Loose," the top R&B single for four consecutive weeks at the end of 1978. Its fabulous arrangement, exuberant horn work, and arresting, terse vocals made Brown & the Soul Searchers momentary celebrities. But the follow-up, "Game Seven," flopped, and they were soon back on the go-go circuit. They had one more flirtation with the spotlight in 1984, as the single "We Need Some Money (Bout Money)" reached number 26 amid predictions that go-go was ready to explode into the mainstream. It didn't happen, but Brown remained active. He tried again in 1991 with '90s Goin' Hard for Goff. A documentary on the Washington, D.C., go-go scene appeared in 2002 and prominently featured Brown and his music. After being hospitalized for pneumonia, Brown died at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University Hospital on May 16, 2012; he was 75 years old.


For the politician, see Chuck Brown (Minnesota politician).

Charles Louis "Chuck" Brown (August 22, 1936 – May 16, 2012) was an American guitarist and singer who is affectionately called "the Godfather of Go-go". Go-go is a subgenre of funk music developed in and around Washington, D.C. in the mid and late 1970s. While its musical classification, influences, and origins are debated, Brown is regarded as the fundamental force behind the creation of go-go music.

^ "'Godfather of Go-Go,' Chuck Brown Dies". The Washington Informer. May 16, 2012. ^ Smith, Craig (November 2, 2007). "Some More D.C. Flavor: Chuck Wound Me Up". Virginia Law Weekly (University of Virginia) 60 (9). Retrieved November 28, 2012. 

Early life: 1936–1963[edit]

Charles Louis Brown was born on August 22, 1936 in Gaston, North Carolina. Brown's mother, Lyla Brown, was a housekeeper, and his father, Albert Louis Moody, was a United States Marine. Brown's father, however, was not present in his life, and Brown lived in poverty. When Chuck Brown was seven years old, he learned to play the piano. He moved to Washington, DC in 1942, and at 15 he started to live on the streets. He did not graduate high school; Brown quit school and decided to perform odd jobs to make money, including shining shoes.

In the 1950s, Brown was convicted of murder and served eight years in Lorton Correctional Complex. At first, the case was tried as aggravated assault; however, it was moved up to murder once the victim died. Brown stated that his actions were in self-defense. In prison, he traded cigarettes for a guitar, which was how his love for the instrument began. When Brown completed his sentence, he moved back to Washington, DC and worked as a truck driver, a bricklayer, and a sparring partner at multiple boxing gyms. He also started to perform at parties throughout the area; however, he could not play at venues that served liquor, because his parole officer would not allow it.


Chuck Brown died on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital of multiple organ failure, including heart failure or heart problems. He was 75 years old. Several weeks prior to his death, he had postponed and canceled shows due to hospitalization for pneumonia.

^ Sisario, Ben (May 18, 2012). "Chuck Brown, Godfather of Go-Go, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2012. ^ Richards 2012, p. 1^ Baker, Soren (May 24, 2001). "Chuck Brown Proves Go-Go Hasn't Gone-Gone". MTV (Viacom). Retrieved November 29, 2012. ^ 2012, p. 2^ Fusilli, Jim. "The Godfather of Go-Go". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2013. ^ Cite error: The named reference Informer was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ "Chuck Brown dies: 'Godfather of Go-Go' passes away at 75". ABC Channel 7. May 16, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 


"Chuck [Brown] was like the Washington Monument. He was like Ben's Chili Bowl. He was the big chair. He was all of that. Chuck Brown was Washington, DC [ ...] People feel you when it's genuine, and Chuck was always that."

Donnie Simpson, Washington, DC radio and television personality

Brown is called the "Godfather of Go-Go" and was considered a local legend in Washington, DC. Darryl Brooks, a local promoter who worked with Chuck Brown during his career, stated, "He was a symbol of D.C. manhood, back in the day, because of the authority that he spoke with. He just spoke from a perspective that black men could understand." Andre Johnson, the leader of the go-go band Rare Essence, said that Chuck Brown "influenced generations of people—not just one—a few generations of musicians around here." Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray said Brown was "Go-go's creator and, arguably, its most legendary artist."

^ Richards, Chris (May 16, 2012). "Chuck Brown's Music Impact: Deep Into Washington, and Beyond". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2012. ^ Cite error: The named reference nydeath was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Bogdanov 2003, p. 853^ "Chuck Brown Dead: D.C.'s 'Godfather Of Go Go' Dies At 75". The Huffington Post. May 16, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
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