Kool & the Gang’s drummer and founding member George “Funky” Brown had died, aged 74.
A representative for Kool & the Gang issued a statement to TMZ announcing the news yesterday (November 18) and revealing that Brown died on November 16 following a long battle with cancer. Brown was reportedly diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago.
The statement read: “George Brown died November 16, 2023 in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. Brown has co-written many of the band’s iconic songs, including ‘Ladies Night’, ‘Too Hot,’ ‘Jungle Boogie,’ ‘Celebration,’ and ‘Cherish.’ When asked to describe his music, Brown always replied, ‘The sound of happiness.'”
During his near 50-year tenure with the band, Brown played drums, keyboard and contributed backing vocals. He was also one of the group’s primary songwriters.
Despite having cancer, Brown contributed to Kool & the Gang’s most recent album, ‘People Just Wanna Have Fun’, which was released in July.
In the same month, Brown also published his memoir, Too Hot: Kool & the Gang & Me.
Tributes have poured in for the musician on social media. Nile Rogers wrote on Twitter/X: “#RIPGeorgeBrown – Songwriters Hall of Fame, Kool & The Gang legendary drummer and friend. Heartfelt condolences go out to your family, friends and the funk.”
See more of the tributes below:
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) November 17, 2023
George Brown, co-founder, drummer, songwriter of Kool & The Gang best known for the worldwide hits “Ladies Night,” “Get Down On It,” “Fresh, Celebration,” “Too Hot,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Joanna,” died November 16, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA after a battle with cancer. He was 74. pic.twitter.com/mwQkBvDUDR
— Kool & the Gang (@KoolntheGngLIVE) November 18, 2023
Ahh i'm sad to hear the news about George Brown from
Kool and the Gang passing away. George came on my Show when i first started out, and was so incredibly lovely to interview pic.twitter.com/ZGaZ4GHTwO
— Hayley Palmer Presenter (@presenterhayley) November 17, 2023
— John Matthews (@UNDERCOVER_JM) November 17, 2023
— Patty Jackson (@MsPattyJackson) November 18, 2023
The band released their self-titled debut album in 1969. After releasing two more live albums, 1973’s ‘Wild And Peaceful’ was their breakthrough. More success arrived in 1979 with ‘Ladies’ Night’, an album that became their first platinum-selling work.
Samples from Kool And The the Gang’s music has been used widely by artists including Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson and Madonna. As reported in The Guardian, Brown previously spoke about how he was “totally honoured” by how often his music had been reused.
His family have asked that donations be made to the Lung Society of America in place of flowers.
Brown is survived by his wife and five children.
This is a breaking news story – more to follow
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