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Chuck Brown

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Chuck Brown


Chuck Brown is music's answer to baseball's iron man Satchel Paige. Born in 1936, Brown earned his only Top 40 hit at age 43 and still regularly performs. He's a barn-storming ex-hobo who used to play for food but stuck around long enough to become a good-time ambassador for his community. He is also, as much as one person can be, the originator of a musical genre: go-go music, a hybrid of big-band '70s funk, multi-drummed Latin percussion, gospel call-and-response, horn-section jazz, old-school rapping and DJ-like song segues that evolved in Washington, D.C., through the '70s. In 1979, Brown's Soul Searchers topped the R&B chart with "Bustin' Loose," but he had already been playing in soul and Latin bands since the early '60s. In 1984, "We Need Some Money" went No. 26; 23 years after that, "Block Party" got to No. 60. But Brown never stopped band-leading -- in fact, of his 15 or so albums since 1985, about half were recorded live. Most came out on tiny local labels, with minimal distribution beyond D.C.; many have overlapping setlists, frequently incorporating cover selections spanning the past 70 years of black music. To Chuck Brown, it's all one big party.

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