Chuck Brown

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Chuck Brown
A close-up of Brown singing into a microphone
Onstage, October 1, 2005
Background information
Birth name Charles Louis Brown
Born (1936-08-22)August 22, 1936
Gaston, North Carolina
Origin Washington, D.C.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Baltimore, Maryland
Genres Funk, go-go
Occupation(s) Singer, musician, songwriter, record producer, guitarist
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1960s–2012
Notable instruments
Gibson ES-335 (blonde)

Charles Louis "Chuck" Brown (August 22, 1936 – May 16, 2012) was an American guitarist and singer who is affectionately called "the Godfather of Go-go".[1] Go-go is a subgenre of funk music developed in and around Washington, D.C. in the mid and late 1970s. While its musical classification, influences, and origins are debated, Brown is regarded as the fundamental force behind the creation of go-go music.[2]

Early life: 1936–1963

Charles Louis Brown was born on August 22, 1936 in Gaston, North Carolina.[3] Brown's mother, Lyla Brown, was a housekeeper, and his father, Albert Louis Moody, was a United States Marine. Brown's father, however, was not present in his life, and Brown lived in poverty.[3][4] When Chuck Brown was six years old, he moved to Washington, DC in 1942, and at 15 he started to live on the streets.[5] He did not graduate high school; Brown quit school and decided to perform odd jobs to make money,[6] including shining shoes.[7]

In the 1950s, Brown was convicted of murder and served eight years in Lorton Correctional Complex. At first, the case was tried as aggravated assault; however, it was moved up to murder once the victim died. Brown stated that his actions were in self-defense.[6] In prison, he traded cigarettes for a guitar, which was how his love for the instrument began.[6] When Brown completed his sentence, he moved back to Washington, DC and worked as a truck driver, a bricklayer, and a sparring partner at multiple boxing gyms. He also started to perform at parties throughout the area; however, he could not play at venues that served liquor, because his parole officer would not allow it.[6]


Chuck Brown died on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital of multiple organ failure, including heart failure. He was 75 years old. Several weeks prior to his death, he had postponed and canceled shows due to hospitalization for pneumonia.[1][8] His interment was at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf, Maryland.


"Chuck [Brown] was like the Washington Monument. He was like Ben's Chili Bowl. He was the big chair. He was all of that. Chuck Brown was Washington, DC [ ...] People feel you when it's genuine, and Chuck was always that."

Donnie Simpson, Washington, DC radio and television personality[9]

Brown is called the "Godfather of Go-Go"[3][10] and was considered a local legend in Washington, DC. Darryl Brooks, a local promoter who worked with Chuck Brown during his career, stated, "He was a symbol of D.C. manhood, back in the day, because of the authority that he spoke with. He just spoke from a perspective that black men could understand."[9] Andre Johnson, the leader of the go-go band Rare Essence, said that Chuck Brown "influenced generations of people—not just one—a few generations of musicians around here."[9] Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray said Brown was "Go-go's creator and, arguably, its most legendary artist."[11]


File:Chuck Brown and his guitar (2005).jpg
Brown with his signature blonde Gibson ES-175
  • 1972: (as The Soul Searchers) We the People
  • 1974: (as The Soul Searchers) Salt of the Earth
  • 1978: Bustin' Loose
  • 1980: Funk Express
  • 1984: We Need Some Money
  • 1986: Go Go Swing Live
  • 1987: Any Other Way to Go?
  • 1987: Live '87 – D.C. Bumpin' Y'all
  • 1988: DC Don't Stand For Dodge City" [Produced by: Jonathan R. Smith, J. Mitchell Bebbs and Darrell Johnson, aksa: Square One Productions]
  • 1988: 2001 (That'll Work, aka: Sprach Zarathusta, aka: Go-Go Cover of The Theme From 2001 A Space Odyssey) [Produced by: Jonathan R. Smith, J. Mitchell Bebbs and Darrell Johnson, aksa: Square One Productions]
  • 1989: Trust Me: Live Pa Tape, Vol. 2
  • 1990: Wind Me up Chuck, Vol. 3
  • 1991: 90's Goin' Hard
  • 1993: This Is a Journey into Time
  • 1995: Hah Man
  • 1995: The Other Side – with Eva Cassidy (recorded in 1992 and released in 1995)
  • 1997: Live Pa Tape
  • 1998: Timeless
  • 1999: The Spirit of Christmas
  • 2001: Your Game...Live at the 9:30 Club
  • 2002: Put Your Hands Up!
  • 2005: Best of Chuck Brown
  • 2007: We're About The Business
  • 2010: We Got This[12]
  • 2014: Beautiful Life

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "'Godfather of Go-Go,' Chuck Brown Dies". The Washington Informer. May 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Smith, Craig (November 2, 2007). "Some More D.C. Flavor: Chuck Wound Me Up". Virginia Law Weekly. University of Virginia. 60 (9). Retrieved November 28, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sisario, Ben (May 18, 2012). "Chuck Brown, Godfather of Go-Go, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Richards 2012, p. 1
  5. Baker, Soren (May 24, 2001). "Chuck Brown Proves Go-Go Hasn't Gone-Gone". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved November 29, 2012. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |newspaper= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 2012, p. 2
  7. Fusilli, Jim. "The Godfather of Go-Go". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Chuck Brown dies: 'Godfather of Go-Go' passes away at 75". ABC Channel 7. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Richards, Chris (May 16, 2012). "Chuck Brown's Music Impact: Deep Into Washington, and Beyond". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Bogdanov 2003, p. 853
  11. "Chuck Brown Dead: D.C.'s 'Godfather Of Go Go' Dies At 75". The Huffington Post. May 16, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Maza, Erik (June 23, 2011). "Chuck Brown just Keeps on Going". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 29, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links