Celebrated Drummer and Songwriter George Brown of Kool & The Gang Passes Away at 74


The music world is mourning the loss of a legendary figure, George Brown, the acclaimed drummer and songwriter of the iconic band Kool & The Gang. At the age of 74, Brown’s life came to a solemn end in his Los Angeles home on the night of November 16, 2023, after a valiant struggle with stage four lung cancer.

George Brown was not only the heartbeat behind the drums but also a creative force within Kool & The Gang, contributing to the writing of numerous classic hits that defined an era. His talent helped to craft the soundtrack of the ’70s with unforgettable tunes such as “Ladies Night,” “Too Hot,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Celebration,” and “Cherish,” which continue to resonate with audiences across generations.

Brown’s battle with cancer was a testament to his resilience. Diagnosed in September 2021 with a rare form of non-small cell lung cancer characterized by an EGFR exon 20 insertion mutation, he initially responded well to treatment. However, despite the efforts of his medical team who employed a range of therapies including targeted drugs, chemotherapy, and immune therapies, the cancer returned aggressively, spreading to other parts of his body.

In the face of adversity, Brown’s spirit remained unbroken. Even as the disease took its toll, leaving him emaciated and weak, he experienced periods of improvement that allowed him to continue his passion for music. His journey through illness underscores the harsh reality of cancer and the urgent need for continued research and advancements in treatment.

Kool & The Gang’s legacy began in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964, and by 1969 they released their self-titled debut album. Alongside Brown, the original lineup included brothers Robert Bell (bass) and Ronald Bell (keyboards), Dennis Thomas (saxophone), Robert Mickens (trumpet), Ricky West (keyboards), and Charles Smith (guitarist). Today, Robert “Kool” Bell stands as the sole surviving member of this original ensemble.

The band’s success story is adorned with numerous accolades, including two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and a Music Business Association Chairman’s Award for artistic achievement in 2006. Their influence on the music industry is indelible, and their contributions have been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.

Beyond the music, George Brown’s personal life was one of love and family. He is survived by his wife, Hanh Brown, and five children. In honor of his memory, his family has requested that donations be made to the Lung Cancer Society of America, reflecting his and his family’s commitment to fighting this devastating disease.

As we reflect on Brown’s legacy, it is clear that his impact extends far beyond the beats he played or the songs he wrote. He was a pioneer in the music industry, a loving husband and father, and an inspiration to those who fight against life’s most challenging adversities.

The passing of George Brown marks the end of an era for Kool & The Gang and for the music world at large. His rhythm and creativity will continue to live on through the timeless music he helped create, ensuring that his spirit will keep audiences dancing and celebrating for years to come.

In this moment of loss, we are reminded of the power of music to transcend time, to bring joy, and to unite people. George Brown’s contribution to this universal language is immeasurable, and his memory will forever be cherished by fans and fellow musicians alike. Rest in peace, George Brown—your groove is eternal.