George “Funky” Browndrummer, founding member and one of the main songwriters of the pop-R&B group Kool & The Gang, died last night in Los Angeles after a battle with lung cancer. He was 74 years old.
Brown, along with Robert “Kool” Bell on the bass, his brother Ronald Bell on tenor and lead vocalist James “JT” Taylorwas one of the composers of a band with hits like “Jungle Boogie”, “Hollywood Swinging”, “Celebration” and “Get Down on It”. His death was reported by TMZ.
The career of George “Funky” Brown
According to an official biography of the drummer and composer published by the Songwriters Hall of Famethe Jersey City, New Jersey native, had developed an early affinity for jazz drummers Elvin Jones, Art Blakey and Jack DeJohnette when he met the neighbor and future Kool & The, the gang keyboardist Ricky West. West introduced Brown to the band’s future saxophonist and musical director, Ronald Belland to the future trumpeter, Robert Mickensand by the mid-1960s they were playing in jazz clubs while still in high school.
In 1969, the group, which had performed under various names including Jazziacs, became Kool & the Gang and began to develop the blend of jazz, soul, funk, rock and pop that would become his trademark. The band’s breakthrough came in 1973 with the album Wild and Peacefulwhich included the hits “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging”.
Throughout the 70s and well into the 80s, Kool & the Gang had a series of successes including “Ladies’ Night”, “Get Down on It”, “Joanna”, “Cherish” and “Celebration”which topped the charts.
The group won a Grammy in 1978 for their work on the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, which has sold more than 16 million copies in the United States alone. The song “Open Sesame” by Kool & the Gang was also featured in the film.
Total, Kool & The Gang he won two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. They sold 7.5 million albums in the United States and more than 70 million worldwide. The group also opened for Van Halen on his 2012 tour with the original singer David Lee Roth.
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