Kool & The Gang Drummer George “Funky” Brown Dead At 74
George “Funky” Brown, founding drummer of the great funk and R&B band Kool & The Gang, has died. The Guardian reports that Brown died of lung cancer yesterday in Los Angeles. Brown was 74.
George Brown grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a teenager in 1964, he joined up with a group of other local musicians to form a band called the Jazziacs. The Jazziacs started out as a regional cover band and went through a few different names before they started writing their own songs and became Kool & The Gang. (The “Kool” is bassist Robert “Kool” Bell, who’s still in the group.)
Kool & The Gang released their all-instrumental self-titled debut in 1969, and they grew their audience over the next few years. They really broke out with 1973’s Peaceful, which featured a few hits, including “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging,” which George Brown co-wrote. Later in the ’70s, the group’s popularity grew as their sound became more streamlined, and Brown also helped write hits like “Summer Madness,” “Ladies’ Night,” and Hot 100 chart-topper “Celebration.”
George “Funky” Brown was Kool & The Gang’s drummer until 1998, when he switched over to percussion. Earlier this year, the group released a new album called People Just Want To Have Fun, and Brown produced it. Brown also published the memoir Too Hot: Kool & the Gang & Me earlier this year, and he announced his retirement from music a few months ago. A few other Kool & The Gang members have also passed away in recent years — guitarist Ronald Bell in 2020, saxophonist Dennis Thomas a year later.
Below, check out some of George “Funky” Brown’s work with Kool & The Gang.