Remembering Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go


It often seems as if every day brings news of the passing of another music icon; in the past two months, the world has lost Disco legend Donna Summer, Adam “MCA” Youch of the Beastie Boys, Davy Jones of the Monkees, Levon Helm of the Band, and Donald “Duck” Dunn, a crucial member of Stax Records and Booker T and the M.G.’s.

But for many Virginians, the death of Chuck Brown hit particularly hard. The 75-year old Brown was known as “the Godfather of Go-Go,” the energetic, horn-heavy Washington DC-based funk subgenre that never became a Nationwide craze, but remained a vital part of mid-Atlantic music culture from the 1970’s through today.

Brown is best remembered for his 1979 hit with the Soul Searchers, “Bustin’ Loose.” though many younger listeners may have first experienced it through its interpolation in Nelly’s 2002 single “Hot in Herre,” Chuck Brown’s original is a true funk classic that has stood the test of time.

Brown had continued performing regularly in the DC area and around the country until hospitalization forced him to cancel tour dates mere weeks before his death. He passed away from heart failure on May 16th at the age of 75.

Read Brendan Fitzgerald’s interview with Chuck Brown, published in these pages on the occasion of Brown’s 2007 performance in Charlottesville.