"Run Joe...run Joe...the police won't let you go!!" — Chuck Brown "Run Joe"
This was my introduction to Chuck Brown while growing up in the Murder Capital at the time, better known as our beloved home Washington, D.C. A city filled with flossy drug kingpins, crooked politicians, an invincible mayor and an actor turned president. These were the times and our soundtrack to it all was go-go. I had never heard a sound like this before and neither had the rest of the world. It was my formal introduction to go-go music, a sound that would shape my whole world and influence my music career.
Chuck Brown, the "Godfather of Go-Go,” along with his band the Soul Searchers, single-handedly created a new genre and thriving music industry in the nation's capital. Not only did it redefine our lifestyle but it also infiltrated hip hop music and influenced earlier groups such as Salt 'N Pepa, Kid 'N Play and the list goes on. It was music of the people, music of the streets, music that made you feel alive! Walls sweating, beautiful girls dancing freakier than you could imagine, and guys shouting their neighborhood out wanting to be acknowledged. It was our thing, our culture, our everything.
Imagine a band that is able to perform 3 to 5 times a week in the same city week after week, month after month, year after year and continuously pack a venue and sustain. That is go-go music and that is the direct result of Chuck Brown. It created its own economy. It created young entrepreneurs and it created young millionaires. I've been fortunate enough to experience a couple of Chuck Brown's shows and even be on the same bill with him. I've also been extremely blessed to talk to him on several occasions. He was a man that couldn't help but smile and flash his gold tooth. He was a man filled with joy and love.
I was always amazed at how he could rock a show for an hour-plus at his age. It was such an inspiration to witness someone with that type of longevity having a career that spanned 50-plus years and never slowing down. His music touched many generations. Most people his age were either retired or could barely muster the energy to walk up the steps and here was Chuck Brown commanding a crowd of thousands for an hour on end doing what he loved 'till the very end.
Thank you for everything, Chuck!
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(Photos: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images)