The singer, songwriter, bandleader and dancer who indelibly transformed 20th-century music, died early yesterday in Atlanta. He was 73 and lived in Beech Island, S.C., across the Savannah River from Augusta, Ga.
Mr. Brown died of congestive heart failure after being hospitalized for pneumonia, said his agent, Frank Copsidas.
Mr. Brown sold millions of records in a career that lasted half a century. In the 1960s and 1970s he regularly topped the rhythm-and-blues charts, although he never had a No. 1 pop hit. Yet his music proved far more durable and influential than countless chart-toppers. His funk provides the sophisticated rhythms that are the basis of hip-hop and a wide swath of current pop.