GEORGE “FUNKY” BROWN, drummer and founding member of KOOL AND THE GANG died on Friday 17th November. He was 74 and his passing, at Long Beach, California, was confirmed in a statement by the band’s publicist, who said the cause was cancer. His death is the more poignant as the band (essentially Robert “Kool” Bell and Brown) were enjoying a mini renaissance on the back of new album.
George Melvin Brown was born on Jan. 15, 1949, in Jersey City and from a young age harboured ambitions to be a drummer. In 1965 he hooked up with Ricky Westfield and the brothers Ronald Khalis Bell and Robert “Kool” Bell and Spike Mickens, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas and Charles Smith to form a band, the Jazziacs. The group morphed into Kool and the Flames before settling on Kool and the Gang. The group broke though after signing with producer Gene Redd’s De-Lite Records in 1969. Their biggest hits from this period were tough semi instrumentals like ‘Funky Stuff’, ‘Hollywood Swinging’, and ‘Jungle Boogie’ . By the late 70s though music tastes had changed and the group began to struggle.
In 1979, therefore, they subtly changed musical direction after bringing in singer J T Taylor and the hits started to flow again – timeless songs like ‘Ladies Night, ‘Celebration’, ‘Cherish and Joanna’. Over the years Kool and the Gang went through various members and line-ups but Robert Bell and George Brown remained constants.
George Brown is survived by his wife, Hanh Brown, and five children: Dorian Melvin Brown, Jorge Lewis Brown, Gregory Brown, Jordan Xuan Clarence Brown and Aaron Tien Joseph Brown.