George Brown, Kool & the Gang Drummer, Dead at 74
Originally published by Consequence News
George “Funky” Brown, a founding member and longtime drummer of Kool & the Gang, has died at the age of 74.
A representative for Kool & the Gang issued a statement to TMZ saying, “George Brown died November 16, 2023 in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer.”
As reported by CBS local affiliate KCAL News in late October, Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, but was able to battle back after surgery and chemotherapy. Though Brown was able to return to the road in 2022, he was dealt a setback earlier this year when the cancer came back.
Brown co-founded Kool & the Gang in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1964 with brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald Bell, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, Woodrow “Woody” Sparrow, and Ricky West. Following Brown’s death, Robert “Kool” Bell is the only surviving founding member.
Thanks to their unique blend of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, Kool & the Gang earned two Grammy Awards while selling more than 70 million albums worldwide. During the group’s peak in the 1970s and ’80s, they filled the airwaves with massive hits like “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Celebration,” “Ladies’ Night,” and “Too Hot.”
During his nearly 50 years in Kool & the Gang, Brown played drums and keyboards while also contributing backing vocals and serving as a primary songwriter in the group. Despite his battle with cancer, Brown played a major role in Kool & the Gang’s most recent album, People Just Wanna Have Fun, released this past July.
That same month, Brown published his memoir, Too Hot: Kool & the Gang & Me.
Brown is survived by his wife, Hanh Brown, and five children.