George Brown, the drummer for Kool & the Gang died Thursday after a battle with cancer, a Universal Music Enterprises spokesperson announced. He was 74.
Brown, also named as “Funky,” was one of seven school friends from Jersey City, New Jersey, who came together in 1964 as an instrumental-only jazz and soul group calling itself the Jazziacs. Other members included Robert “Kool” Bell on bass, brother Ronald Bell on keyboards and Charles Smith on guitar.
The band eventually formed into Kool & the Gang, in 1969. They signed to De-Lite records and released their first LP, the all-instrumental Kool and the Gang, in 1970. By 1973, they incorporated emerging disco trends in its sound, cracking the U.S. Top 10 with “Jungle Boogie” in 1973 and “Hollywood Swinging” in 1974.
Brown co-wrote 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 went on to achieve notable success, winning 2 Grammys, 7 American Music Awards, a Chairman’s Award, a Soul Train Legend Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Robert “Kool” Bell is now the sole surviving member of the band.