At around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, some 200 Chuck Brown fans lined up outside Washington D.C.’s Howard Theatre, reciting lyrics to his songs, as they waited to go inside and pay their respects . “Vendors were selling Chuck Brown T-shirts and bottled water,” said a reporter who was at the scene. Brown lived in D.C. for seventy years and performed music for fifty of those years.
After battling pneumonia in the hospital, Brown, ‘the Godfather of go-go’, died May 16 at the age of 75. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray arranged for Tuesday’s public viewing and a public memorial service last Thursday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Gray also worked in conjunction with Brown’s family to set the arrangements.
Chuck Brown’s legendary career began in the early 1960s, performing with Jerry Butler and The Earls of Rhythm, and then joining Los Latinos in 1965.
Aside from writing some of the classics of the funk canon such as “I Need Some Money” and “Bustin’ Loose,” of which radio personality Donnie Simpson recently told CNN was “like the National Anthem”; the musician was famous for doing go-go renditions of jazz and blues standards like T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” and Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing.”
His final studio record, We Got This, was released on Raw Venture Records in 2010. Up until the time of his death, he was performing at local D.C. venues, appearing with his band and playing on his signature Gibson ES-335.
For more information about the late funk pioneer, visit his website.