George Brown, a founding member and drummer of the group Kool & the Gang, who performed on funk, disco and pop hits that featured prominently in films 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 a press release 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, often called Funky, was a key contributor to a number of of the band’s greatest hits, together with “Women Evening,” “Jungle Boogie” and the get together 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 associates — Spike Mickens, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas and Charles Smith — to type a band that will mix jazz, funk, disco and R&B and create a few of the most memorable pop songs of their period.
Fashioned in Jersey Metropolis, N.J., the band first performed jazz whereas members attended Lincoln Excessive Faculty. The band carried out below a number of names, together with the Jazziacs, however finally settled on Kool & the Gang within the late Sixties.
One of many band’s early names was Kool and the Flames however the group modified the Flames to the Gang to keep away from confusion with James Brown’s group, the Well-known Flames.
George Brown was born on Jan. 15, 1949. His father, George Melvin Brown Sr., labored within the coal business whereas his mom, Eleanor White Brown, was a maid in Fort Lee, N.J., and likewise labored as a key puncher.
Each made music a continuing a part of Mr. Brown’s upbringing, Mr. Brown recalled in his memoir launched this yr, “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 Red Bull Music Academy, Mr. Brown described utilizing butter knives as drum sticks when he first began taking part in.
“Then I went right 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 recalled. “So he gave me ‘Buddy Wealthy’s 16 Important Snare Drum Rudiments’ guide. I took another lesson and by no means went again.”
The band was signed by the producer Gene Redd to De-Lite Information 1969.
The members had been in an early recording session in New York for his or her instrumental debut album, “Kool and the Gang,” when Mr. Redd inspired Mr. Brown and Ronald Bell to simply “do one thing.” It led to a freewheeling recording session that produced songs like “Uncooked Hamburger” and the album opener, “Kool & the Gang.”
“It simply flowed. And we’re simply grooving,” Mr. Brown advised The New York Occasions in an interview final yr.
The sound carried over into the Nineteen Seventies because the band discovered fame and added the vocalist J.T. Taylor.
Songs like “Jungle Boogie” “Hollywood Swinging” and “Funky Stuff” grew to become Billboard chart staples. “Celebration” — with its cheery refrain “Rejoice good instances, come on!” — made it all the way to the top.
The group would go on to launch dozens of albums, tour worldwide and appeared on the “Saturday Evening Fever” soundtrack, which gained a Grammy Award for Album of the Yr in 1978.
The group’s songs have steadily appeared on movie and tv soundtracks, together with for “Pulp Fiction” in 1994.
In 2015, the band was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mr. Brown was a producer on an album that the band launched this yr, referred to as “Individuals Simply Need To Have Enjoyable” in anticipation of the group’s sixtieth anniversary.
Kool & the Gang had a broad affect, significantly in hip-hop.
In accordance with the website WhoSampled, the band has been sampled in virtually 2,000 songs, among the highest of all time. The band’s tune “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 performed saxophone, died in 2021.
Mr. Brown is survived by his spouse, Hanh Brown, and 5 kids: 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 keeping with an interview broadcast with the television station KCAL in Los Angeles. After surgical procedure and chemotherapy, Mr. Brown recovered and returned to touring in 2022. However this yr, the most cancers returned.
“I didn’t plan on being in a band recognized world wide, however I welcomed it when it got here,” Mr. Brown wrote in his guide. “I didn’t know the place the music would lead me, however I knew that if I remained targeted and persevered, it will occur as God had supposed. And it did.”