(Credits: Kool & the Gang)
George ‘Funky’ Brown, the drummer and a founding member of funk pioneers Kool and the Gang, has died aged 74.
Notably, Brown co-founded the group in 1964 in Jersey City and would play a part on all of their most significant hits, including ‘Celebration’ and ‘Get Down on It’. Following the drummer’s death, bassist and backing vocalist Robert ‘Kool’ Bell is the sole surviving founding member of the original band.
Kool and the Gang blended funk, soul and R&B to create a distinct sound that has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide. Their peak was in the 1970s and ’80s and saw them create an array of other familiar hits, including ‘Ladies’ Night’, ‘Joana’ and ‘Cherish’.
A representative for Kool and the Gang told TMZ: “George Brown died November 16, 2023, in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. Brown has co-written many of the band’s iconic songs, including ‘Ladies Night,’ ‘Too Hot,’ ‘Jungle Boogie,’ ‘Celebration,’ and ‘Cherish’”.
When asked to describe his music, Brown always replied: ‘The sound of happiness.’” Brown is survived by his wife, Hanh Brown, and his five children.
CBS affiliate KCAL News reported in late October that Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago but had battled the disease back with surgery and chemotherapy. He was even able to return to touring in 2022 but suffered a setback earlier this year when the cancer returned.
In addition to playing the drums with Kool and the Gang, Brown also contributed keyboards and backing vocals whilst chipping in with songwriting responsibilities. He was featured on their latest album, 2023’s People Just Wanna Have Fun. In July, the same month the record was released, Brown published his memoir Too Hot: Kool & the Gang & Me.
Listen to Kool & the Gang below.