Mel Brown

Mel Brown didn’t have the money growing up to afford drum sticks so he used rolled up newspapers to bang out a beat nearly everywhere he went. At the age of 17, young Mel was playing in area night clubs. While attending Portland State University (on a full scholarship), he met Marvin Gaye while the soul star was performing as part of a Motown live review. After touring with the jazz organist Earl Grant, Mel landed a gig on the 1968 television program “TCB,” which was a Motown program. His foot was in the door and what followed were thousands of recordings and live concerts with the stars of Motown including The Supremes, The Temptations, and that young man he had met years before, Marvin Gaye. Among his career highlights included touring Europe with the Temptations and performing with them at the White House for President Nixon, as well as playing on George Harrison’s hit “My Sweet Lord.” In addition, Mel began endorsing drum products and fell into the music products industry. While attending a NAMM Show, he realized just how many friends he made in the industry, so in 1984 he decided to open Mel Brown’s Drum Shop in Portland. In an amazing career that came full circle, Mel often handed out free drumsticks to young musicians coming into his store in the hopes of fostering their love of playing!

Interview Date:
August 24, 2021
Job Title:
Musician, Drummer, Funk Brother

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