Chuck Brown, the Godfather of go-go, passed away yesterday at the age of 75. He died in Baltimore after suffering from pneumonia. Chuck was the singer and guitarist most associated with the Washington, D.C.-based genre go-go, a style of music that mixed funk, soul and Latin party sounds with steady percussion and audience participation to transition songs into one another, creating a constant rolling groove. He came to national attention when he released his Bustin’ Loose album with the Soul Searchers in 1979. The hit title track stayed at the top of the R&B charts for four weeks straight. At the time, people thought go-go would become as big a sensation as hip-hop.
“Go-go is a music that continues on and on, and it’s a call and response communication with the audience.” – Chuck Brown
Go-go is heavy on percussion with drummers as lead players, accented by guitar riffs, keyboards and horns. Sometimes the musicians will play for two or three hours without stopping. Go-go never took off commercially but it’s unrelenting grooves will always be a part of Washington, D.C. After the go-go sensation died down, Chuck continued to play music to a local, dedicated following in Washington. He had no problems playing packed clubs in the D.C. area for the rest of his life. He loved the city and the city loved him. In 2005, he was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts. Chuck’s influence on go-go was sensational and his legacy will live on in the music he helped make popular. Get some go-go in your life and listen to “If It Ain’t Funky” below from the Bustin’ Loose album.