the city weeps.
chuck brown is gone.
it’s unbelievable. to see that man perform (even in his 70s) you really believed that he would forever be up on that stage crankin’ and making the crowd move. but so it goes, yesterday the dc area mourned the loss of our beloved godfather of go-go.
yes, we all cried and we were all very saddened by the news of his passing yesterday, but we also pulled out our chuck cds and tapes and pumped up the radio stations that played chuck nonstop and did what he would’ve wanted…we jammed.
we tweeted, facebook’d, called our friends, talked about the shows and the last times we saw chuck, we talked about meeting him in person and what chuck songs reminded us of a specific time. some were able to go to soul factory for a vigil, some made it over to howard theatre to pray and celebrate his life, we all just needed to be around or talk to folks about our loss because chuck brown was really like family.
if you’ve ever been to a chuck brown then you know what i mean. i’m talking about people getting together to have a good time, bodies moving non-stop, sweating, dancing, groovin’, shoutin’ out the lyrics to every joint. to see chuck brown perform live was an experience. it’s a shame that his popularity never soared outside the washington, dc area, but you know, i think it’s okay for us who truly loved him and his music. he was ours.
i was dancing to “bustin’ loose” back in the ’70s before i even really knew who chuck brown was. as a matter of fact, my mother just mentioned that one day she came to pick me up from school at satellite americana on good hope rd. in s.e. and my teacher was showing us how to do the rock while “bustin’ loose” played. and that’s how it goes for chuck brown fans, they pass down the love for chuck to the next generation.
growing up my two best friends, shawn and michele, and i would sit on michele’s front steps with her brother’s boombox and blast music during the summer. in fact, i’m pretty sure “moody’s mood for love” was playing in the background when i was about 12 and had my first (and very sloppy) kiss with a kid named brian who lived down the block. whenever i hear that song it takes me back to those steps, the good times we had talking smack about boyfriends and blasting chuck on the radio.
by the time “we need some money” came out in the early ’80s i was a full blown fan. please, who in dc at that time wasn’t singing…mastercard, visa, american express. i ain’t got nothin’ against no credit cards, but the cash is the best? and you had to have a “run joe” t-shirt with mickey and minnie mouse on it. me and my friends hopped on the train to go downtown and buy ours off the vendor stands and when i couldn’t wear those shirts anymore (because the things were worn out) i hung them on my wall.
it wasn’t until years later that i was finally able to meet chuck. i worked as the associate editor of sister 2 sister magazine for close to ten years and throughout that time i met and interviewed a ton of celebrities. from jay-z to beyonce and destiny’s child, queen latifah and luther vandross. just a bunch of folks. but the day i met chuck brown at the black family reunion? oh, i was siced!! ummmm…hello, this is chuck. brown. if you’re not from this area then i’m sure you don’t get it, but his music had been the soundtrack to my life. meeting him and having the chance to tell him how much i loved his music meant a lot to me and it’s something i’ll always treasure.
i’ve seen chuck perform so many times…outdoor festivals in dc, at p.g. community college back in the day, at go-go live in ’87, cabarets, clubs…and i’m thankful that i had the opportunity to see him twice last year. my fam, kindred the family soul, recorded a song with chuck brown and dj kool called “going to the go-go” and they did a few shows with him here in dc.
can i just say how hype i was when i first talked to aja (a dc native by the way) about the song?! oh my goodness, we were so excited that chuck was on the album. when kindred had a performance with the godfather at ibiza for their daydream party last april me, my mama, and friends were all at the front jammin’. chuck was on point as always and the crowd was in full mode. we were all sweating, tired and had sore feet by the time the night was over. and it’s not just seeing him live that gets people in this area excited. you can best believe that nothing gets people more hype in a club, cabaret, cookout, basement house party…than putting on chuck brown.
my husband and i went to see kindred and chuck again on our anniversary and aja’s birthday on september 25, 2011 at the birchmere in virginia. when we were walking towards the venue my husband said, “there’s chuck right there,” pointing to chuck sitting in his car. me, being the pressed chuck brown fan i am (haha!!) was all loud and excited and waving, “heyyyyy, chuck!!” he just smiled back and said hi. there’s no doubt that he was used to getting that kind of love whenever he traveled through dc, maryland and virginia. and trust, nobody else in dc is getting that kind of love from folks. nobody.
my husband recorded some of the show from that night at the birchmere:
i always expected that chuck brown would perform until he just couldn’t anymore and that’s exactly what happened. go-go was in his blood and the music was so much of who he was that i think we all started to get worried when he recently had to cancel shows. chuck brown cancelling? it’s just not something that happens. we all prayed for him to get better.
it’s kind of crazy that one of the most popular chants that we alwaysssssss said chuck shows is chuck baby don’t give a f-ck!! it’s crazy because it’s just the opposite of everything i’ve read about this man and who truly was as a person. he had a deep love for people. so in response to our chant he always said, that ain’t true…i love all of you.
i truly believe he did, but i really think we all loved him just a little bit more.