District Mourns Loss of Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown

Shantella Y. Sherman | 5/23/2012, 12:03 p.m.

Legendary Musical Icon Celebrated as a Visionary and Mentor to Fans, Other Artists

The District of Columbia is known throughout the world by many monikers: the nation's capital, 'Chocolate City,' and the seat of Western democracy. However, among Go-Go music enthusiasts worldwide, it is known as Go-Go central. And its king, affectionately known as the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, enjoyed a reign unlike that of any seated elected official in D.C. history. Brown succumbed to pneumonia, Wed., May 16, following a stay in the intensive care unit of Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore. He was 75. Brown had demonstrated little signs of slowing down until his hospital stay and his death left both fans and industry colleagues in shock. Within hours of his death, impromptu block parties, replete with driving Go-Go beats, dancing, and chanting, erupted all over the metropolitan area.

"I was at Howard University hospital to get my knee checked out and heard the music," said Charlene Thaxton of Reston, Va., who took part in one of the parties. "I had to come over and pay my respects because I've been running with Chuck since I was fifteen and I'm 54 now. I had to say my good-byes."

Many told the Washington Informer that with Brown's death they lost a close friend, mentor and father figure, as well as a musical icon.

"It was an honor for me to work with Chuck Brown and promote his music. I was a follower of Chuck's before I got into the business," said Bo Sampson, who promoted the song "Your Game" and a mix with Peaches & Herb, and one with Sugar Bear with Brown. "I think the legacy of Chuck Brown for the city is a blueprint to keep his name alive."

Radio personality Michelle Wright said Brown's ability to bridge musical genres and relate intimately to audiences of all ages, enhanced his genius.

"Chuck Brown's impact has been in being a bridge musically and as a family figure. One of the things that resonated most with me about Chuck Brown was that he was an authentic soul. He could relate to a person no matter their age," said Wright.

"So many people have the same memory of jamming with Chuck and the band. The call and response and the crowd participation was amazing. When Chuck would see you, and call you out: 'Hey Sweet Michelle, I love you so much,' he meant it. It was just so heartfelt and amazing," Wright said.

Others, like hip-hop artist DJ Kool said that among Go-Go artists, Brown was viewed as an educator who infused business lessons with advice about life.

"Chuck Brown was a total source of inspiration and information for all of us. He was our godfather, our kingship, and our everything. He let us know that not only can you do it, but you can do it as long as you feel it. He was in his 70s, giving the crowds exactly what they wanted no matter how he was feeling," said DJ Kool, who played on Brown's "Block Party" release.