The District’s Godfather of Go-Go

The District lost a music icon today when Chuck Brown – known as the Godfather of Go-Go – died at the age of 75.

Chuck Brown Way, dedicated to the Godfather of Go-Go in 2009.

Brown developed and popularized the go-go sound in Washington in the 1970s, combining funk, soul, and rhythm and blues with a steady drumbeat that kept the music going and going for hours. Brown was famous for his live shows and interaction with the crowds in historic D.C. venues like the Uline Arena and the Howard Theatre.

His song “Bustin’ Loose” – performed with his band The Soul Searchers – made it to number one on the R&B singles chart in 1978, but the popularity of go-go primarily stayed within the District. And in the course of thirty years, go-go became one of those rare things – a native D.C. tradition.

Brown was supposed to play once again at the newly renovated and reopened Howard Theatre in April, but the show was postponed when he was hospitalized.

Tonight a crowd gathered outside the Howard, a block from Chuck Brown Way, to pay homage to a cherished Washingtonian. With the sounds of go-go music in the background, a set of balloons was released into the sky.

And several blocks away, the D.C. bar The Passenger was serving a special drink special in his honor – the “Bustin’ Loose.”

As Brown said when he thanked well-wishers and fans on Facebook last month, “There’s no love like DC love!”

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