George Brown Dies: Kool & the Gang Drummer Was 74

George Brown of Kool & the Gang (Credit: Instagram/Kool & The Gang)

George Brown, a founding member of Kool & the Gang, has died. He was  74.

The drummer and songwriter passed away Thursday, Nov. 16, in Los Angeles after battling lung cancer, Universal Music told the Associated Press.

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Kool & the Gang posted a tribute to the self-taught drummer on the group’s official Instagram page Friday.

“In loving memory of our dear brother, co-founder and the funkiest drummer the world has ever seen. His beautiful soul is now at rest,” the post read. “We love you, George. Thank you for giving us the sound of happiness.”

Kool & the Gang was formed in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964.

The soul music group was made up of school friends Robert “Kool” Bell on bass, his brother Ronald Bell on keyboards, Robert “Spike” Mickens on trumpet, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas on saxophone, Ricky West on keyboards, Charles Smith on guitar, and Brown on drums.

The group first called themselves the Jazziacs, before landing on the name Kool & the Gang.

Brown co-wrote some of the Grammy-winning band’s most popular hits, including “Celebration,” “Too Hot,” and “Ladies’ Night.”

Kool & the Gang was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. Brown told the hall of fame he was influenced by Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette, who are considered some of the greatest jazz drummers of the time.

The band was also added to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, they had a street in Jersey City named in their honor, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.

Brown is survived by his wife Hanh Brown and his children Dorian Melvin Brown, Jorge Lewis Brown, Gregory Brown, Jordan Xuan Clarence Brown and Aaron Tien Joseph Brown.