Saying goodbye to the ‘Godfather of Go-Go’

D.C. Councilman Marion Barry arrives at the Howard Theatre for the Chuck Brown viewing. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
D.C. Councilmembers Jack Evans, Michael A. Brown and Phil Mendelson at the side door of the Howard Theatre after the Chuck Brown viewing. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Fans of Chuck Brown began lining up in the heat and humidity outside the Howard Theatre hours before the 11 a.m. viewing began. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Pedestrian barriers were outside the theatre early Tuesday morning before the viewing. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
T-shirts on sale outside of the viewing. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON – Friends, family and fans of musician Chuck Brown are gathering today in Northwest D.C. to begin saying goodbye to the “Godfather of Go-Go.”

During a public viewing on Tuesday at the Howard Theatre, T Street will be closed from 7th Street to Florida Avenue. After the morning rush hour, street closures will extend to 7th and 8th streets between Florida Avenue and S Street.

The viewing runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The closures around the Howard Theatre will last until midnight.

Fans have been standing outside the Howard Theatre for hours, in the heat and humidity. Rock Newman is a D.C. fixture who says nobody was more loved than Brown, and nobody loved his fans more.

“We all grieving because we lost Chuck,” Newman says.

One onlooker who saw Brown’s casket arrive says he was pleased to be a part of the musician’s “homecoming.” He was not the only fan who feels he grew up with Brown.

“He’s gone through generations,” another passerby says. “My parents like Chuck Brown, I like Chuck Brown, my children like Chuck Brown.”

Several people say Brown has been a part of their lives since they were kids, and that he delivered until the end.

The public memorial service will be held 12 p.m., Thursday at the D.C. Convention Center.

Brown, who died May 16 at age 75, styled a unique mix of funk, soul and Latin party sounds to create go-go music in the nation’s capital.

A Washington, D.C. native, Brown began his career in the 1960s and is best known for songs “I Need Some Money” and “Bustin’ Loose.”

In 2007 Brown told The Associated Press that go-go was influenced by sounds and fast beats he heard early in life, growing up in North Carolina and Virginia, combined with his experience later, playing with a Latin band.

“Go-go is a music that continues on and on, and it’s a call and response communication with the audience,” Brown said.

Video: Hearse carrying Chuck Brown’s casket arrives at the Howard Theatre:

Video: Chuck Brown’s casket arrives at the Howard Theatre:

On Thursday, L Street will be closed near the Washington Convention Center between 7th and 9th streets for Brown’s public memorial service.

Transportation officials and police are urging the public to use public transit to attend the service.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein has been at the Howard Theatre early this morning. Follow along with his tweets from the scene below:

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press and WTOP. All rights reserved.)

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