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District Mourns Loss of Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown

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

Still, artists from around the globe have enjoyed Brown's sound and will similarly mourn. The British band Coldcut's celebrated 1987 hit "Say Kids What

Time Is It?" and Indie group Farm's pop anthem "All Together Now" from 1990 used Brown's rhythm from "Bustin' Loose".

Additionally, the Eric B. & Rakim classic "Paid in Full" album fused Brown's songs, as did Nelly's hit "Hot in Herre."

For Al Johnson, lead singer of the Unifics and long-time friend of Brown's, longevity was what made the Go-Go legend unforgettable. Said Johnson, 64, as the decades mounted, so did Brown's ability to shift the music and reinvent the sound.

"Brown kept the sound young enough to be significant to the young, but classic enough to keep more mature fans happy. To the area he was one of the prime-time ambassadors of the Washington music scene and he gave D.C. respectability by refining Go-Go and giving it relevance. There were other bands before him, but none with his sophistication or polish. He was a guy you automatically liked. Most people especially his live audiences loved him. They saw something in him that made them love him. 'Ain't no party like a Chuck Brown party' was such a truism," Johnson said.

Rapper and radio host Nonchalant said it was not uncommon to have a grandmother, mother, and daughter at the same show enjoying Brown's music. Calling Brown "our Dick Clark," Nonchalant said he had the same energy, demeanor, and mellowness he has since his youth.

"Chuck Brown's music is timeless. Anytime an artist can go on stage and play music recorded 15 years ago and have the same reaction then as now, it is saying something. He could also play a gig five nights a week and the same audience would be there all five nights. Face it, "Run Joe" is timeless music. You think of where you were, how old you were, and what you were doing when you hear it," Nonchalant, 41, said.

"I believe younger people and young bands saw what possibilities there could be in the music industry when they examined Chuck's career. His music touched Los Angeles and traveled overseas. He proved that you could be nominated for a Grammy award for Go-Go and that it could happen at any age," she said.

Some musicians closest to Brown felt they loss a mentor and friend. Rare Essence percussionist Milton "Go-Go Mickey" Freeman said that had it not been for Brown, few other Go-Go bands would have reached their mark.

"Chuck Brown started a lot of bands playing in the city like EU and Trouble. You got bands that are playing in television shows and movies because of what Chuck started. It's hurting a lot of people and you could turn to him about industry issues. I don't know who we can turn to now. Really, if you had business questions, you first wanted to hear from Chuck because he had seen the good and the bad and would genuinely help other artists. His passing is going to affect us for a while," Mickey said.