Kool & The Gang drummer George “Funky” Brown has died mere months after releasing his memoir, Too Hot: Kool & the Gang & Me. A rep for the group confirmed in a statement Brown lost his battle with Stage 4 lung cancer on Thursday night (November 16). He was 74.
“George Brown died November 16, 2023 in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer,” the statement reads. “Brown has co-written many of the band’s iconic songs, including ‘Ladies Night,’ ‘Too Hot,’ ‘Jungle Boogie,’ ‘Celebration’ and ‘Cherish.’ When asked to describe his music, Brown always replied, ‘The sound of happiness.'”
Kool & The Gang was formed in 1964 by brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald Bell, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, Brown, Woodrow “Woody” Sparrow and Ricky West. In 1969, they signed with De-Lite Records, where they released their self-titled debut album. The Grammy Award-winning group eventually found success with their fourth album, Wild and Peaceful (1973), which spawned the Top 10 singles “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging.” (The former would find new life in 1994 with the release of the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction.)
Kool & The Gang’s most successful albums included Ladies’ Night (1979), Celebrate! (1980) and Emergency (1984), their highest selling album with two million copies sold in the U.S. They spawned several hit singles such as “Ladies’ Night,” “Celebration,” “Get Down on It,” “Joanna,” “Misled” and “Cherish”. In 2012, they supported Van Halen on tour and embarked on a 50th anniversary tour two years later.
Brown began work on his book years ago but was forced to put the pen down when he was diagnosed with cancer. Speaking to AllHipHop earlier this year, Brown explained, “I actually got sick, and I’m going through it now, finishing chemo at this moment. So the book was prompted by by the healthcare. The book was prompted by me wanting to express myself with regard to show business and life and all the things that as humans we relate to.
“And I wanted to express myself in that regard. And fame brings good things and fame brings negative. You know, it’s a double edged sword. And I wanted to express that. So you see, so many artists go for so many hardships, not realizing that the business that they’re in very demanding.”
Fortunately for Brown and his fans, he got that chance to tell his story. Too Hot: Kool & the Gang & Me truly tells the tale of who Brown was at the core. As he said, “We’re all going through the same type of stuff. We are human; all colors, you know, Black, white, yellow, green—it’s all such nonsense. We’re all one.”
AllHipHop sends our condolences to Brown’s family and all those who loved him.