George Brown, the legendary drummer and co-founder of Kool & the Gang, has passed away at 74 on Thursday (November 17). Said news came from a Universal Music Enterprises spokesperson, and follows a cancer battle that he ultimately succumbed to. However, the musician’s indelible impact in the genres of funk, soul, and so much more will never vanish, much like that of his bandmate Ronald Bell, who passed away in September 2020. Brown’s passing comes almost exactly sixty years after he and six other friends in Jersey City, New Jersey formed an instrumental soul and jazz group in 1964.
Through various iterations, shifts, and evolutions- which involved name changes, genre switches, incorporating vocals, and more- Kool & the Gang eventually became the legends we celebrate today in 1969. Five years later, George Brown and his companions had fused together their inspirations and references with the new wave of disco through chart-toppers like “Jungle Boogie.” In fact, songs like 1974’s “Hollywood Swinging” continue to be covered and revered today by many artists, most recently BROCKHAMPTON. Even though the following years wouldn’t yield immediate success, it wouldn’t be long until they continued their hit parade.
Kool & The Gang Presenters Attend Hollywood Walk Of Fame Ceremony In 2015
HOLLYWOOD, CA – OCTOBER 08: Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, Ronald Khalis Bell, Dennis ‘DT’ Thomas and George Brown of Kool & the Gang attend the ceremony honoring Kool & The Gang with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame held on October 8, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
For example, there’s the iconic “Celebration,” the band’s only Billboard chart-topper, plus “Get Down On It,” “Joanna,” and many other classics. Through their catalog, Kool & the Gang’s presenters not only the genres they played in, but the genres that these styles birthed. Hip-hop- and, frankly, popular music at large- samples them everywhere, whether it’s early icons like The Beastie Boys, GOAT contenders like Jay-Z, or gargantuan superstars like Madonna. Thanks to the work of George Brown, saxophonist Dennis Thomas, and every other member, we have songs that are timeless today.
This year, Brown released a memoir titled Too Hot: Kool & the Gang and Me, which goes over his personal story and that of his musical journey with his friends. He always described his music as “the sound of happiness.” The percussion expert is survived by his wife Hanh and his six children: Dorian, Jorge, Gregory, Jordan, Clarence, and Aaron. The Lung Cancer Foundation of America is accepting donations in his honor. For more news and the latest updates on more musical juggernauts, whether young or old, stick around on HNHH.
Rest In Peace George Brown.