Brown passed away on Friday (21Aug09) in Chicago, Illinois. He was the last surviving member of the Original Copasetics, an ensemble of tap-dancing stars formed in 1949 that helped revive the dance form. Formed after the death of international tap star Bill Bojangles Robinson, the group took its name from Robinson’s familiar phrase “everything is copacetic”, and played an influential role in the tap dance movement throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
Throughout his 80-year career, Brown headlined shows at the Roxie, Radio City Music Hall and the Cotton Club in New York, the Palladium in London and the Latin Casino in Paris in the 1930s and ’40s. He also danced in 1948 Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate.
In 2004 he was honoured with the American Tap Dance Foundation’s Hoofer Award, one of several accolades bestowed on him throughout his lengthy career.
He performed just last year (08) in New York’s American Tap Dance Foundation’s Tap City festival; and his work can also be seen in the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Emmy-nominated tap documentary, JUBA – Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance.
Brown is survived by his daughter, Barbara Jenkins, and four grandchildren.