The Washington Post

Chuck Brown, D.C. go-go legend, dies at 75

A true legend of D.C. passed Wednesday, and it feels like a part of all us has been taken with him. And I'm sure I speak for anyone that grew up around here going back three or four generations.

Chuck Brown at the Panorama Room in Washington, D.C. in 2009. (Marvin Joseph/THE WASHINGTON POST)

When news of his hospitalization hit a few weeks ago, I remember telling a colleague that if they drove his body through the streets of D.C., it would be a spectacle similar to a presidential inauguration. Now, I wish I'd never spoke it.

It's impossible to really compare Chuck Brown to anyone because he had no equal on D.C.'s music scene. Surely, you could recall greats like Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye, but Chuck embodied the people the way no artist ever has, or likely will ever be able to.

Wall Street Journal music critic Jim Fusilli tweeted last month that “Talking to [Chuck] in DC is like talking to Elvis in Memphis." If you don't know anything about Brown, that should tell you everything.

Those of us following closely knew that when he canceled his show at the newly renovated Howard Theatre, a place he tried to help keep alive as a go-go sanctuary in the 80s, that things weren't good. 

But chronicles foretold of the Godfather's potential demise don't mean the reality hits any less harder. D.C. has lost the likes of someone that is truly irreplaceable. Chuck was the coolest cat's favorite cool cat. The guitar, the hat, the shades, everything about him was badass. And he had the talent to back it up.

Someone texted me earlier this season after seeing a home run at Nats Park: When did they stop playing Chuck after homers? I didn't have an answer. In fact, it never occurred to me that would ever change.

The lasting memory I'll take of Chuck is that for as much as he could have, he never made it all about himself. He was a man of the people, a man of the nation’s capital. 

In the last major release of his I can remember, Brown teamed up with the locally grown duo Thievery Corporation for a song called "The Numbers Game."  The video is a love letter to the District and the culture of the city. Which in a way, is exactly what Chuck Brown's life and career were to the rest of us.

Read more on The Root DC

‘Basketball Wives’ recap

A graduate’s uncertain future

‘The Game’: Season 5, Episode 17

Leader of bounce beat band TCB not forgotten

Jay-Z supports Obama in gay marriage

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
What can babies teach students?
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Is fencing the answer to brain health?
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
How a hacker group came to Washington
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
How hackers can control your car from miles away
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained