This year we have already lost several music legends: Whitney Houston, Etta James, Adam Yauch and the two DCs: Don Cornelius and Dick Clark – both of whom had iconic TV shows that played the soundtrack of our lives and showed us all how to get down on the dance floor. But yesterday all of us who grew up in the Washington, DC area received the news we didn’t want to hear – our beloved Chuck Brown was gone.
He was known as the “Godfather of Go-Go.” He was a walking, talking, groovin’ landmark of Washington, DC. Many of you reading this may have no clue what Go-Go music is – it is a fusion of funk, jazz and soul that uses nonstop percussions and drums. Go-Go music perfected the art of call and response with the crowd. Chuck Brown said the style got its name because “the music just goes and goes.” And thankful for all of us, his music will go on and on.
Chuck taught us how to “Back It On Up,” reminded us “We Need Some Money” and told us it’s OK if you felt like “Bustin’ Loose.” Chuck exposed us to jazz tunes through sampling James Moody’s “Mood for Love,” Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and Harry Bellafonte’s calypso classic “Day-O.” He took Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair” and gave it some extra funk with a Go-Go flair. He put a twist on the Woody Woodpecker theme song, pleaded for Joe to Run, and begged us all to ask him to “Wind Me Up, Chuck!” And even though he would tell us in his tongue in cheek way that “Chuck Baby” don’t give a (rhymes with truck)…we all know he did. In a 2006 interview he said:
I’m not retired because I’m not tired. I’m still getting hired, and I’m still inspired. As long as I can walk up on that stage, I want to make people happy. I want to make people dance.