DC’s Legendary “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown
Remembered on a Special Edition of
“NewsPlus with Mark Segraves”
Friday, May 25, 7:30AM
An in-depth interview with DC’s legendary “Godfather of Go-go,” Chuck Brown will be the highlight of a special edition of “NewsPlus with Mark Segraves,” on Friday, May 25th, at 7:30AM on WDCW-TV, DC50, the CW in Washington.
The Grammy-nominated Brown, who is regarded as the fundamental force behind the creation of go-go music, died of heart failure last week at the age of 75 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Segraves conducted the lengthy interview with Brown in October, 2010 in what was DC’s famed Uline Arena (now a parking garage located on 3rd Street in N.E. near Union Station.) In Segraves’ exclusive interview, the late DC music icon discussed his life, his career and his local legacy.
During this interview, Brown recalled his early days moving from North Carolina to Washington, DC and working as a shoe shine boy outside the Uline Arena and the Howard Theatre. He also revealed the other professions he worked in over the years, including his stint as a boxer, before becoming involved in music and ultimately creating go-go, a sub-genre of funk music developed locally in the 1970’s.
Segraves chose Uline for this interview because Brown went from shining shoes outside the arena to being a headline performer there in the 1970’s. In this in-depth interview Brown talked about his success both locally and nationally and his recollections of the Uline. The Uline, now on the National Registry of Historic Places, housed The Beatles’ first American concert (a few days before their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show)” as well as The Rolling Stones and many of the era’s top performers.
“There’s a certain vibe you feel when you walk inside here. And I’m always reminiscing. I love to reminisce and remember things. Those things I could never forget” – Chuck Brown
Brown also discussed his storied friendship with DC icon Petey Greene, known for his controversial radio and television career. Brown offered a firsthand and colorful recollection of Greene’s well-known experience of climbing to the top of the Lorton Reformatory Prison water tower to talk a prisoner down. Brown was serving time in Lorton at the same time as Greene.
After the initial broadcast of “NewsPlus with Mark Segraves: Remembering Chuck Brown,” the show can be seen in its entirety on DC50tv.com.
When the funk music known as "go-go" comes up in casual conversation — and that's not nearly often enough — it's inevitably accompanied by the mention of one man's name: Chuck Brown. The Washington, D.C. funk band leader and composer, whose biggest hit was the 1978 song "Bustin' Loose," died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore at age 75. He was the king of an East Coast subgenre that rose alongside New York funk and hip-hop in the 1970s and '80s.
Featuring remarkable Afro-Cuban polyrhythms via pounding congas and rototoms, punctuated bursts of brass and Brown shouting out call-and-response phrases alongside grooves that extended many songs to over eight minutes long — and, more importantly, almost two or three times that in a live setting — Brown's music was for partying. Though it flirted with mainstream success in the '80s, the music has remained a regional phenomenon, a uniquely American strain of dance music.
But that doesn't mean its influence hasn't spread. The rhythms he built were some of the earliest tracks sampled by electronic dance music producers, especially when rave culture was being born in England. Coldcut's influential 1987 jam "Say Kids What Time Is It?" is built on the back of a Chuck Brown rhythm from "Bustin' Loose" — as is the Farm's breakout rave-pop anthem "All Together Now" from 1990.
In hip-hop, Eric B. & Rakim's classic "Paid in Full" album adapted two Brown songs, and most prominently, Virginia producers the Neptunes used Brown's "We Need Some Money" on Nelly's smash "Hot in Herre."