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George “Funky” Brown Dies: Kool & The Gang Drummer & Songwriter Was 74

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George “Funky” Brown, the drummer, founding member and one of the main songwriters of pop-R&B group Kool & The Gang, died in Los Angeles last night following a battle with lung cancer.

He was 74. Brown, along with Robert “Kool” Bell on bass, his brother Ronald Bell on tenor and lead vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor, was one of the songwriters in a band with such hits as “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Celebration,” and “Get Down on It.” His death was reported by TMZ.

According to an official biography of the drummer-songwriter posted by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Jersey City, N.J., native had developed an early affinity for jazz drummers Elvin Jones, Art Blakey and Jack DeJohnette when he met neighbor and future Kool & The Gang keyboardist Ricky West.

West introduced Brown to the band’s future saxophonist and musical director Ronald Bell and future trumpeter Robert Mickens, and by the mid-1960s they were playing jazz clubs while still in high school.

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