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Posted at 11:21 AM ET, 05/17/2012

GWU’s Knapp recalls playing with Chuck Brown


Just before Chuck Brown took the stage at a George Washington University Alumni Weekend concert in September, the “Godfather of Go-Go” chatted with GWU President Steven Knapp, who is a percussionist.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you come up on the stage and play with us?’ ” Knapp recounted Friday morning, the day after Brown died at the age of 75.
Chuck Brown performs during the GWU Alumni Weekend Kickoff Party in September 2011. (David Scavone/GWU)

Knapp figured he would play a drum solo for a few minutes and then sneak off the stage. Twenty minutes later, he was still playing. At one point, Brown got the crowd to chant: “Go President Knapp, Go President! Go President Knapp, Go President!”

“It was pretty intense,” said Knapp, a Romantic literature scholar-turned-administrator who has led GWU since 2007. “That’s an unusual experience for a university president.”

After the concert, Knapp said that Brown gave him one of the greatest compliments he has ever received: “I haven’t seen hands that fast since my calypso days.”

Knapp jokes that he wants that quote engraved on his tombstone one day.

On Thursday afternoon, Knapp was at a ground-breaking for a new building when he heard the news of Brown’s death. That night, he issued a statement: “Chuck Brown was a true cultural icon in the District of Columbia.  He essentially invented a genre of music — go-go — that will have a lasting presence in the culture not only of Washington but of America as a whole.”

Here’s a video of the Brown-Knapp performance on Sept. 16, 2011:

For even more higher education news, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. To learn more about Brown’s legacy, check out these articles by my colleagues:

Chuck Brown dies: The ‘Godfather of Go-Go’ was 75

Chuck Brown was everything there was to love about music in D.C.

Chuck Brown’s music captured church’s spirit

...and Chuck Brown Made It Go-Go (August 1994)

By  |  11:21 AM ET, 05/17/2012

 
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