HAROLD RAY BROWN
HAROLD RAY BROWN
Basic Background Info
Harold Ray Brown, born in Long Beach, California, first pursued music through conga drums and then the violin before settling on the drums in junior high school. Together with school chum Howard E. Scott, Harold Ray Brown played his first professional gig while he still attended high school. Recognizing the potential for financial gain, Harold founded the Creators to perform at high school dances and car shows.
After a few years, Howard E. Scott again joined Harold Ray Brown and, along with bassist Peter Rosen and percussionist Thomas Sylvester Allen, they renamed the group Night Shift. After a performance in North Hollywood, vocalist Eric Burdon and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar jammed with Night Shift. The two joined up with Night Shift, and before long, Burdon took over the entire act and led them under another name: War.
War consistently performed eclectic funk music throughout the 1970s. They fused soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae, and rock to create their unique sound. Within their music, the band often discussed the sociopolitical climate of the era, but always with an optimistic twist. In a similar vein, the band was remarkably democratic with no musician indulging in solos. Instead, the entire group grooved and jammed as equals.
Although they struggled with their initial records and Burdon's waffling over whether he wanted to perform with the band or as a solo act, the 1971 All Day Music album became a top 20 hit and sold more than one million albums. Their next release, The World Is a Ghetto, was the best selling album of 1973.
When disco started pushing funk out of mainstream popularity in the late 1970s, War faded into the background. They tried to jump on the disco bandwagon and even went so far as to add new members to the band. But those efforts (The Music Band and The Music Band 2) proved entirely fruitless. Band members started leaving and by 1985, the group only occasionally toured and ceased recording new music altogether. However, modern hip hop and rap outfits frequently sampled War's funky beats, so their popularity and relevance never left the scene completely.
After Harold Ray Brown left War in 1983, he earned a college degree in computer science and a minor in music. Most recently, Harold served as a historian and tour guide in New Orleans. Harold Ray Brown performs in the Lowrider Band with Howard Scott, Morris Dickerson, and Lee Oskar, all former members of War.
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