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Flashback Friday: Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown

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"Yeah, they had go-go clubs and go-go girls, but they didn't have go-go music, so I decided to call it go-go music, because trust me it's the only music that can keep going and going and going," says guitarist and singer Chuck Brown, the "Godfather of Go-Go." Brown created the sound that is synonymous with the Maryland/D.C./Virginia area -- and has put it on the map for music lovers across the world. He is most famous for his 1978 #1 Billboard hit "Bustin' Loose," but is ready to put a new generation of listeners onto the infectious go-go beats. While the 74-year-old's new album "We Got This" is set to release on Tuesday, the godfather takes a walk down memory lane with ESSENCE.com to reminisce on the music and the movement that has gotten him inducted him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has him scheduled for the Jimmy Fallon show with the Roots this Sept 28th, and has kept him relevant for over 30 years. ESSENCE.com: Talk about coming up with the go-go sound. CHUCK BROWN: It was intentional, I was trying to create a sound all my own, like how James Brown came up with his own sound. It wasn't really until I started working with Los Latinos that I really understood music and was able to create a sound I thought would be the sound for the town -- I'm proud to see how much it took off. ESSENCE.com: Back in the 80s when your career was at its peak, what are some of the things you have the fondest memories of? BROWN: Playing in different dance halls six nights a week. Seeing people walk in the doors, dancing with their mink coats and suits and ties. Moving tables and chairs out the way so that it was dancing room only. One time the crowd kept yelling out the Bootsy Collins [reference] "Wind Me Up," while we were playing and I would start the song over and do it again. I did the same song more than four times, and when they left that place no one had on suits and ties. (Laughs)  I knew we had something good going... ESSENCE.com: Having a street named after you had to be another good memory. BROWN: Oh yeah, I rode up and down that street until I had to get a new car. ESSENCE.com: Best thing and worst thing about go-go music in comparison to other genres? BROWN: Audience participation is the best thing, the worst in the misconception that go-go leads to violence. Go-go makes people happy not violent. ESSENCE.com: What's different about the "We Got This," release compared to other albums? BROWN: I have great guest stars, Jill Scott, Ledisi,  Marcus Miller and Chucky Thompson that produced the album. They are really what made the album special, because we all really put our heart into it. I hope the people like it. ESSENCE.com: Describe working with Jill Scott and Ledisi, were they familiar with go-go? BROWN: I had played sets with them before this album, and they jumped right in on their songs, "Love" and "Funky Stuff," and it was beautiful. See, I had never wanted to work with a woman again since the passing of Eva Cassidy, who had been on my previous album, so working with them both was an honor. ESSENCE.com: As the Godfather of Go-Go, give me your definition of the go-go sound? BROWN: Another form of funk music designed to make people dance and never stop. ESSENCE.com: Obviously like you, 'cause at 74 you still haven't stopped... BROWN: Oh no, and I won't stop. Gospel go-go up next... ESSENCE.com: Do you feel go-go music is unappreciated? BROWN: No, it's appreciated all around the country and all around the world. In 1972 I thought it would just be music for the town but the kids jumped on it, I still can't believe it caught on. "We Got This" is available in stores and for download Tuesday, September 21.
Filed Under: Flashback Fridays
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