George Henderson "Dude" Brown, 79, a Washington jazz drummer who began his career as a teenager playing with pianist Jelly Roll Morton on U Street NW and who later toured with Louis Armstrong and other jazz greats, died Aug. 19 at his home in Washington. He had a heart ailment.
Mr. Brown played locally at venues that included Blues Alley, the One Step Down, Wolf Trap and the Mayfair, often accompanying pianist John Eaton. He also performed on an Eaton program about composer and orchestra leader Duke Ellington.
He toured with Sonny Stitt, Lionel Hampton, Gene Ammons and Illinois Jaquette and also had played with Shirley Horn, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Thad Jones and others. He also recorded locally.
In between jobs, he taught drums privately in Washington.
Mr. Brown was a superb drummer, and he loved to perform, fellow musicians said. But he was known as a mercurial figure and as something of a character who would walk away from a job if displeased.
It was part of the Dude Brown legend, Eaton recalled, that while touring with Louis Armstrong in the late 1940s, Mr. Brown packed up and left when the world-famous trumpeter asked him to play something differently. Mr. Brown "had become part of the militant bebop movement" at that point in his career, Eaton said. Armstrong was still playing more traditional jazz.
"Dude," Mr. Brown was said to have retorted as he dismantled his drum set, "I don't play that way."
Mr. Brown's marriage to Sarah Brown ended in divorce.
Survivors include four children, Joyce Middleton of District Heights, Sylvester Brown of Landover and Jeannette Brown and Joanne Badgett, both of Washington; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.