Creative and Dreams Music Network is deeply honored to recognize the fabulous Chuck Brown, “the Godfather of Go-Go.” He was an amazing performer who gave so much great music to the world.
“The Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown is the undisputed sole founder and creator Go-Go music, a hypnotically danceable genre deeply rooted in funk and soul that he developed in the early ‘70s, and the only form of expressive culture to originate in the District of Columbia. Foreshadowing rap and many of the major popular R&B styles of the past three decades, Chuck’s signature style earned him a place in American musical royalty. This esteem was maintained by the reputation of his legendary live shows, heavy on audience participation and built around “the beat” to create an unparalleled non-stop party atmosphere.
While searching for a sound to call his own in the 1960s, Chuck was deeply inspired by artists like James Brown. He latched onto the Latin percussion groove from the band he played with at the time, Los Latinos. Combining this with his roots, his love of blues, jazz, gospel, soul and African rhythms, Chuck began to develop his own unique sound. Starting out playing top forty, Brown would break-it-down between songs with percussion and audience call and response to keep the music going and the dance floor packed.
His first hit was “We the People” on the debut album of the same name in 1972. Next came the album Salt of the Earth, with the hit “Blow Your Whistle” (sampled by Grammy winner Eve in 2007 in her hit “Tambourine”) and one of the most sampled break beats of all time from “Ashley’s Roach Clip” (including Eric B and Rakim, LL Cool J and countless others). In 1978, the Soul Searchers became Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, and Chuck’s original composition “Bustin’ Loose” took the #1 spot in Billboard on Source/MCA Records. The song was used in Grammy winner Nelly’s 2002 smash “Hot in Herre,” and continues to be one of the most relevant and often sampled funk songs ever written (“Bustin’ Loose” was recently featured in a national television campaign for Chips Ahoy).
After substantial touring across the U.S., but with no money to show for his success, Chuck found himself looking for inspiration. He secured it in his next hit, the Billboard-charting “We Need Some Money,” which propelled him around the world again. Brown then revisited his love of jazz and created the “Go-Go Swing Medley,” introducing people around the world to classics by Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer and James Moody, spun in Chuck’s inimitable way. Released independently and later on Polygram Records, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers once again reached an international audience in 1985 at Holland’s North Seas Jazz Festival. In between sets by Curtis Mayfield and James Brown, Chuck schooled everyone on the genre he created. That same year, Chris Blackwell introduced the movie Good to Go, a much-hyped but poor reflection of the scene. Nonetheless other artists such as Salt N Pepa, Kurtis Blow and Grace Jones, began incorporating his sound in their music. Brown continued to record and perform in the U.S. with stints in Europe and Japan in the 1990s.
After a string of live recordings, he met at the time an undiscovered, shy talent by the name of Eva Cassidy in the early ‘90s. His lifelong dream of singing with a lady, springing from his love of duets by the likes of Louis Armstrong with Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Eckstine with Sarah Vaughan, came to fruition with the critically acclaimed and worldwide release of The Other Side by Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy (which contained the original recording of the worldwide Eva Cassidy hit “Over the Rainbow”). He dedicated a jazz standards album to Ms. Cassidy after her tragic passing from cancer.
In 2001, he released the Billboard-charting Your Game… Live at the 9:30 Club, which was voted as one of the top 10 albums of 2001 by Billboard’s R&B Editor, Rapper Chuck D and others. A live DVD came next, which Murder Dog Magazine called “Quite possibly the greatest live concert video/DVD I have ever seen.” The same year a double remastered Best Of album was released. In 2006 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Chuck a “Lifetime Heritage Fellowship,” the Federal Government’s highest honor for folk and traditional arts. Chuck also performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that year. In 2007, his We’re About the Business CD debuted as the #1 independent album and #2 R&B album in Billboard. He also joined previous honorees such as Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, BB King, and Earth Kitt when the National Visionary Leadership Project recognized his contributions to American history.
Most recently Chuck has recorded with artists as diverse as Thievery Corporation, Brian Culbertson, Jeff Majors and Kindred the Family Soul. A street in Washington DC was renamed “Chuck Brown Way.” In September 2010, Brown released an ambitious three-disc set We Got This, which includes the Grammy-nominated song “LOVE” featuring Jill Scott with Marcus Miller. As part of the support for the new album, some appearances included the “Jimmy Fallon Show with The Roots,” “The Mo’Nique Show,” NPR’s “Tiny Desk Unit” and NPR’s “World Café.” The National Symphony Orchestra paid tribute to Chuck Brown in September 2011 with two commissioned works of orchestral arrangements and a performance on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. Attended by an estimated 50,000 people, the NSO and Chuck performed together, followed by his band in concert with guests Doug E. Fresh and Sugar Bear. Chuck Brown passed away on May 16, 2012. A Chuck Brown music pavilion is being built in Washington, DC on Chuck Brown Memorial Park, and a final album is currently in production. The Chuck Brown Foundation, Inc. was formed to continue his work with the disenfranchised in Washington, DC.
We would like to thank Mr. Tom Goldfogle and the Chuck Brown Estate for letting us share Chuck’s wonderful music and performances. For more information about Chuck Brown, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It all begins with a creative dream.” -Fred Cannon
- Interview on CTV
DC Lottery Commercial
Performing Wind Me Up