As many of you know, Chuck Brown–aka “The Godfather of Go-Go”–passed away on May 16. Thanks to DJ Soulsister, I came across this Grantland piece by Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, who did a great job of putting Chuck’s life and work in context. For example, he writes:
Yet in C.C.[Chocolate City], unlike in the Bronx, flesh-and-blood musicians still ruled. Dancers moved to two-hour song suites yoked together with steaming fatback breaks of drums, percussion, and bass pulls. DJs played only when the band rested. As they cued up their records, they cursed the day they had refused to take trumpet lessons.
Chuck Brown was the reason. He had figured out what bandleaders in other cities would not until it was too late. Instead of the songs, he realized the transitions between the songs — the percussive solos, hyped-up shout-outs, and church-style call-and-response — were the draw. What DJ Kool Herc was doing for the Bronx, Chuck Brown was doing for C.C. But Brown was a general leading dance bands to victory.
After reinventing the dance band format, Chuck personally nurtured every notable go-go band of the next three decades. His manager, Tom Goldfogle, once said Chuck had single-handedly created hundreds of jobs. In most cultural movements, there are many authors. In go-go, however, everyone agrees that there was only one Chuck.
You can read Jeff’s full article here.