Over the course of his career, drummer Freeman Brown had the chance to play for music greats such as Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix. After developing a strong reputation in the Nashville R&B scene, Brown went on to become one of the most highly-respected drummers in the business.
Now, the music industry is mourning his loss. The Tennessean reports that Brown passed away on Tuesday (January 17) at the age of 74. No cause of death was released.
In addition to playing drums for solo artists as a session musician, Brown participated in a variety of groups. He was a member of Johnny Jones and the King Casuals, the Earl Gaines Band, and many more.
One of Brown’s former bandmates, soul artist Charles “Wigg” Walker, spoke about Brown’s undeniable talent. “We never had to worry about Freeman doing anything wrong with the drums,” he said. “The whole band was a good band, but Freeman was really steady. I just loved his playing.”
Perhaps most notably, Brown was part of a group called The Fame Gang. Comprised of session musicians like Brown, the Fame Gang played for some of the world’s biggest stars in music at the time, such as Etta James. The group also put together their own record, which they titled “Grits and Gravy.”
Later in his career, Brown played as the house drummer for two music television programs called Night Train and The !!!!Beat. In recent years, he was a common fixture at Carol Ann’s Home Cooking Cafe, where he played during the weekly Tennessee Blues Society jams.
From 2004-2005, the Country Music Hall of Fame hosted an exhibit called Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm and Blues. The exhibit served to recognize the impact that R&B artists have had on Music City. Due to his individual influence, Brown was one of the main artists featured in the exhibit. He was present for the exhibit’s opening, and played that day along with the Earl Gaines Band.
“[He had] such a dominant presence in the Nashville R&B scene of the 1960s and ’70s,” said Michael Gray, the co-curator of the exhibit.
Brown lived in LaVergne, a city located just outside of Nashville. No funeral details have been announced yet, but The Tennessean states that the Terrell Broady Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
Tune in below to listen to Brown play on his record “Grits and Gravy” with his group, The Fame Gang. His talent was truly out of this world.
Brown’s loved ones are in our prayers during this sad time.