Introduction to Peter Brown


Peter Brown is an American disco/dance singer, born in Blue Island, Illinois in 1953. He was not to be confused with the jazz musician and the British singer of the same name. As a young boy he had learned to appreciate music and the technical aspects of recording from his artistic and musically-inclined mother and his electronic engineer father. He played percussion during his teens but seriously considering taking up art as a profession. Brown won a scholarship to study art in college but on a chance he met Cory Wade who persuaded him to make a career in music. It was Corey who eventually got Brown to sign with Drive label, and also produced the latter’s first album A Fantasy Love Affair. The LP yielded a hit single “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky with Me” in the summer of 1977 while its follow-up (from the same album) the following year “Dance with Me” charted even higher. Soon Brown churned many other big dance hits such as “Crank It Up,” “Can’t Be Love – Do It to Me Anyway,” “Baby Gets High,” “(Love Is Just) The Game,” “Zie Zie Won’t Dance” and his lone #1 hit “They Only Come out at Night.” His 1999 album Chasing Fireflies was released by Orchard, and later that year another album Party in the Rain was issued by British-owned Resurgence label. His full biography follows below:

Peter Brown’s early life, musical influences and education

Singer-songwriter Peter Brown was born on July 11, 1953 in Blue Island, Illinois and was raised by his musically-inclined parents. His mother Virginia was artistically and musically talented while his father was an electronic engineer – his parents lent him a huge influence not only on  the artistic side but also on the technical aspects of recording music. During his teens he was already beginning to experiment with his four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder in his bedroom studio.

Despite his musical inclinations, it never came across Brown’s mind that he would be a professional musician. Instead, he saw himself holding a brush and pallet as a way to earn a living. Therefore, he entered The School of the Art Institute of Chicago but while he was in art school, uncertainty hit him. In perfect timing, he met Cory Wade, a record producer who played a big role in Peter’s music career. Wade was the one who got Brown back into his one of his earlier passions — music.

On the way to become a musician

In 1977, by the help of a 4-track recorder and a synthesizer which were the revolutionary gizmos, Brown was on his way to make a name in the disco/funk scene. Initially, Brown wanted to work behind the scenes as a songwriter, producer or studio musician. However, Wade was too confident in Peter’s musical talents. He suggested to Brown that he should sing his own material along with band members they handpicked themselves rather than hiring an artist to perform his songs.

Luckily, the 4-track demos which Wade sent to TK Records received a positive feedback. The record label picked “Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me?” as a single from his first album, A Fantasy Love Affair.

Although 12” singles were something new at that time, “Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me?” reached #18 on Billboard chart (#9 on the dance chart and #3 on the R&B chart). It sold over a million copies and became certified gold. The second single, “Dance with Me” (with Betty Wright on vocals) was more impressive than the first single; it peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the dance chart and #5 R&B. It became Brown’s most successful song ever in his career.

The 1978 Record World Magazine Disco Awards named Brown as the Outstanding New Performer, Top Male Vocalist and Top New Male Vocalist. In 1979, Brown released his second LP, Stargazer which included the club hit “Crank It Up.” It went to #4 on the US chart.

Later career and present life

In 1983, the following single “Baby Gets High” made to #4 on the Billboard disco chart. The club hit was from his third album, Back to the Front Under, released on RCA Records. Snap, Brown’s fourth and last album was released on 1984. It included the singles “They Only Come Out at Night” (#1 on the Billboard dance chart – the only chart-topping single Brown has had), “(Love Is Just) The Game,” (#2 dance) and “Zie Zie Won’t Dance” (#20 dance) .

In 1985, he also co-wrote Madonna’s “Material Girl” and Agnetha Faltskog’s “Maybe It’s Magic.” Brown’s music career was cut short due to tinnitus where his ears were damaged. He is now currently living in Colorado involving with the design and architectural fields.

Interesting Facts About Peter Brown

With a gold-selling 12 disco single, Peter Brown marked his position in the music industry in 1977. Experimenting with drums in his teens, Peter recorded his famous song “Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me” in his bedroom, as shown on the song cover. Let’s find out more interesting facts about Peter Brown.

  • Did you know Peter’s father helped him with electronics? Maurice, Peter’s father, was an electronic engineer. He always brought back the latest technological breakthroughs, such as CB (the first color television) and ham radio (the first stereo record player). He even bought several tape recorders for Peter when he was a child. 

retro radio tape recorder

  • Brown’s biggest musical inspirations were Santana, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Chicago. He was good at drums and mastered playing the timpani, conga drums, and numerous other percussion instruments.
  • Peter Brown was credited as one of the founders of house music. House music is a mechanical music genre characterized by a repetitive beat. The pattern is called four-on-the-floor, with a typical tempo of 120 beats per minute. This mechanical beat was widely used for disco and electronic dance music in the 1970s.