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Kool & the Gang drummer and co-founder George 'Funky' Brown dead at 74

NEW YORK — Kool & the Gang co-founder and percussionist George “Funky” Brown is dead at 74.

The band announced the death of the New Jersey native and “funkiest drummer” on Friday.

“In loving memory of our dear brother, cofounder and the funkiest drummer the world has ever seen,” the band wrote on social media. “His beautiful soul is now at rest. We love you George. Thank you for giving us the sound of happiness.”

Brown died from stage 4 lung cancer Thursday in Los Angeles, according to The Associated Press.

In 1964, Brown helped form Kool & the Gang out of Jersey City under their original name the Jazziacs. The Grammy-winning band took on the name by which it’s now known in 1969 and went on to produce funk-disco hits including “Celebration,” “Ladies Night” and Jungle Boogie.” They were awarded with a star on the The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.

“From Nairobi to Newark, Kool & the Gang has performed continuously longer than any R&B group in history and their bulletproof funk and jazzy arrangements have also made them the most sampled R&B bands of all time,” their website boasts.

Kool & the Gang saw several lineup changes over it’s nearly 60 years together, but Brown stayed with the band as they continued to perform through the decades. They were scheduled to kick off a new set of shows early next year, including a Feb. 17 concert in Atlantic City.

Prior to Brown’s passing, the band lost co-founder and singer Ronald Bell in 2020, followed by original saxophonist Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas in 2021.

Brown leaves behind his wife, Hanh, and five children. His family has asked that donations be made in his honor to the Lung Cancer Society of America.

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