Kool & The Gang drummer and co-founder George ‘Funky’ Brown dies | Ents & Arts News

Nov 17, 2023 | Uncategorized

George “Funky” Brown, the long-time drummer and co-founder of Kool & The Gang, has died at the age of 74.

The musician died on Thursday in Los Angeles, according to a statement released by Universal Music.

He retired earlier this year after announcing he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

His decision to step down came almost 60 years after helping to create the Grammy Award-winning group, known for hits including Celebration, Too Hot, Joanna and Ladies Night.

Kool & The Gang at a ceremony honouring the band with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles in 2015 Pic: AP
George Brown (R) with Kool & The Gang as the band received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015. Pic: AP

Kool & The Gang’s catchy combination of jazz, funk, soul and disco – which Brown dubbed the “sound of happiness” – saw them sell millions of records and build an army of fans spanning several generations.

Leading tributes on social media, the band described Brown as “the funkiest drummer the world has ever seen” in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Thank you for giving us the sound of happiness,” they added.

US music producer and Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers wrote on X: “Heartfelt condolences go out to your family, friends and the funk.”

Kool & The Gang, originally named The Jazziacs, was launched in 1964 in Jersey City by Brown alongside bassist Robert “Kool” Bell, keyboardist Ronald Bell and guitarist Charles Smith.

After years of relative obscurity as well as name and personnel changes, the band made their breakthrough in the mid-1970s with their songs Jungle Boogie and Hollywood Swinging.

They peaked in the late-1970s to mid-1980s with ballads Cherish and Joanna and the chart-topping Celebration, which remains a party favourite played at weddings and festive gatherings.

The band’s success saw them honoured with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.

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This year saw Brown produce the band’s latest album, People Just Wanna Have Fun, and release his memoir entitled Too Hot: Kool & The Gang & Me.

He is survived by his wife Hanh Brown and five children.

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Relatives said any donations made in his honour should go to the Lung Cancer Society of America.

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