Founding Member Of Iconic Funk Band Dies At 74

Dana Abizaid Contributor
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George “Funky” Brown, co-founder and drummer of the iconic band Kool & The Gang, died “peacefully” in his sleep at the age of 74 Thursday in Long Beach, California, People Magazine reported.

Brown joined brothers Ronald “Khalis” and Robert “Kool” Bell to form a band with Charles Smith, Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Ricky West and Robert “Spike” Mickens in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1964, according to People.

The band, which first called itself the Jazziacs before changing its name several times, officially debuted as Kool & The Gang in 1969, People reported. The band blended jazz, funk, soul, rock and pop and helped define the soulful sound of the 1970s on its way to becoming one of the most famous funk bands of all time, according to the magazine. (RELATED: Ronald Bell Of Kool & The Gang Dies At 68)


Brown was one of the main songwriters behind such hits as “Celebration,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Ladies Night,” according to The Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The cause of Brown’s death has yet to be announced, but in October KCAL reported that Brown had stage 4 lung cancer, according to People.

“We lost our beloved husband and father, Kool & The Gang founding member George Brown last night,” Brown’s family said in a statement. “He passed away peacefully at Long Beach Memorial Hospital surrounded by family…His incredible talent and presence will be greatly missed and never forgotten.”

In the KCAL story, Brown opened up about living with lung cancer, particularly how it stopped him from touring three years ago before he recovered in 2022 and went back on the road, People reported. However, in 2023, the cancer returned.

In a NPR interview in July when Brown was asked how he would describe Kool & The Gang’s sound, he said, “The sound of happiness.”