George Brown of Kool & the Gang Dies at 74

George Brown, who because the drummer of the group Kool & the Gang performed on funk, disco and pop hits that featured prominently in motion pictures and have been sampled quite a few instances, died on Thursday in Lengthy Seaside, Calif. He was 74.

His demise, at a hospital, was confirmed in an announcement by the band’s publicist, who stated the trigger was most cancers. Mr. Brown had stated publicly that he had lung most cancers.

Mr. Brown, generally known as Funky, was a founding member of Kool & the Gang and a key contributor to a number of of the band’s greatest hits, together with “Girls Evening,” “Jungle Boogie” and the social gathering anthem “Celebration.”

In a July interview with NPR, he described Kool & the Gang as “the sound of happiness.”

In 1964, Mr. Brown linked up with Ricky Westfield and the brothers Ronald Khalis Bell and Robert “Kool” Bell, in addition to different buddies — Spike Mickens, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas and Charles Smith — to kind what was initially a jazz band however would go on to mix jazz, funk, disco and R&B, and to create a few of the most memorable pop songs of its period.

The band, fashioned in Jersey Metropolis, N.J., whereas its members have been attending Lincoln Excessive Faculty, carried out beneath a number of names, together with the Jazziacs, earlier than deciding on Kool & the Gang within the late Sixties. (A type of early names was Kool and the Flames, however the group modified “Flames” to “Gang” to keep away from confusion with James Brown’s group, the Well-known Flames.)

George Melvin Brown was born on Jan. 15, 1949, in Jersey Metropolis. His father, George Sr., labored within the coal trade; his mom, Eleanor White Brown, was a maid in Fort Lee, N.J., and in addition labored as a key puncher.

Each made music a relentless a part of Mr. Brown’s upbringing, he recalled in a memoir revealed this 12 months, “Too Sizzling: Kool & the Gang & Me.”

Mr. Brown, who took to drumming at a younger age, wrote that he saved up from a newspaper supply route to purchase his first drum set.

In a 2015 interview with Purple Bull Music Academy, Mr. Brown recalled utilizing butter knives as drum sticks when he first began enjoying.

“Then I went all the way down to a music retailer on Newark Avenue in Jersey Metropolis and took a $3 lesson from a gentleman who used to play with the Shirelles. He stated, ‘Hey man, you’re a pure!’” Mr. Brown stated. “So he gave me ‘Buddy Wealthy’s 16 Important Snare Drum Rudiments’ guide. I took yet another lesson and by no means went again.”

The band was signed by the producer Gene Redd to De-Lite Data in 1969.

At an early recording session in New York for his or her instrumental debut album, referred to as merely “Kool and the Gang,” Mr. Redd inspired Mr. Brown and Ronald Bell: “Say one thing! Sing one thing!” That led to a freewheeling session that produced memorable songs like “Uncooked Hamburger.”

“It simply flowed,” Mr. Brown instructed The New York Instances in an interview final 12 months. “And we’re simply grooving.”

The sound carried over into the Seventies because the band discovered fame. Its fame grew after the vocalist, J.T. Taylor joined in 1979.

Songs like “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging” and “Funky Stuff” grew to become Billboard chart staples. In 1981, “Celebration” — with its cheery refrain “Have a good time good instances, come on!” — made all of it the way in which to the highest.

The group would go on to launch dozens of albums, tour worldwide and seem on the “Saturday Evening Fever” soundtrack, which received the Grammy Award for album of the 12 months in 1979.

The group’s songs have ceaselessly appeared on the soundtracks of movies and tv reveals, together with “Pulp Fiction” in 1994.

In 2015, the band was awarded a star on the Hollywood Stroll of Fame.

Mr. Brown was a producer of the newest Kool & the Gang album, “Folks Simply Wanna Have Enjoyable,” launched this 12 months in anticipation of the group’s sixtieth anniversary.

Kool & the Gang had a broad affect, significantly in hip-hop.

Based on the web site WhoSampled, the band has been sampled in virtually 2,000 songs, among the many highest totals of all time. The band’s music “Summer time Insanity” accounts for 249 samples, by artists together with Ice Dice, Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige.

Ronald Khalis Bell, a singer, songwriter and saxophonist for the band, died in 2020. Mr. Thomas, who additionally performed saxophone, died in 2021.

Mr. Brown is survived by his spouse, Hanh Brown, and 5 youngsters: Dorian Melvin Brown, Jorge Lewis Brown, Gregory Brown, Jordan Xuan Clarence Brown and Aaron Tien Joseph Brown.

Three years in the past, Mr. Brown was identified with lung most cancers, in response to an interview with the Los Angeles tv station KCAL. After surgical procedure and chemotherapy, he recovered and returned to touring in 2022. However this 12 months, the most cancers returned.

“I didn’t plan on being in a band identified around the globe, however I welcomed it when it got here,” Mr. Brown wrote in his memoir. “I didn’t know the place the music would lead me, however I knew that if I remained centered and persevered, it might occur as God had supposed. And it did.”

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