California [US]: George Brown, a lyricist and drummer who was a founding member of Kool & the Gang, passed away on Thursday. He was 74, CNN reported.
Publicist Jerry Digney of Kool & the Gang emailed CNN to corroborate the story. Digney said that Brown lost his fight with cancer and passed away in Los Angeles.
In 1964, Brown, along with Ricky Westfield, Ronald Bell and his brother Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, and neighbourhood pals Spike Mickens, Dennis Thomas, and Charles Smith, started a group called the Jazziacs and started creating jazz, soul, and funk-infused music.
After going by a number of different names, such as The New Dimensions, The Soul Town Band, and Kool & the Flames, they finally settled on Kool & The Gang and began performing in 1969.
Many of the band’s well-known songs, such as ‘Ladies Night’ from their eponymous 1979 album, ‘Too Hot,’ ‘Jungle Boogie,’ ‘Summer Madness,’ ‘Open Sesame,’ ‘Celebration,’ and ‘Cherish,’ were co-written by Brown.
The group had three Grammy Award nominations and one victory (1979) for ‘Saturday Night Fever’ soundtrack album. They were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the New Jersey Hall of Fame, and they received seven American Music Awards in addition to a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the years after, a number of bands have liberally copied drummer Brown’s characteristic sound from the early Kool & The Gang albums, including Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill, and The Killers.
As a member of one of the most enduring R&B groups in history, Brown travelled with Kool & the Gang until he retired in August of this year.
This year, Brown also published his memoir, ‘Too Hot: Kool & The Gang And Me.’
According to a statement from his publicist this week, the artist’s response to questions about how to best characterise his music was always, ‘the sound of happiness.’
Brown is survived by his five boys and his wife, Hanh Brown.