DC go-go legend and EU frontman Sugar Bear celebrating fiftieth birthday with exhibits in Tysons, Bethesda


The EU frontman celebrates at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia this Friday, July 12, earlier than an enormous “Birthday Bash” at Bethesda Theater in Bethesda, Maryland on July 26 and 27.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews Sugar Bear in Virginia and Maryland (Part 1)

To paraphrase Experience Unlimited’s greatest go-go hit, “Sugar Bear’s acquired an enormous outdated birthday, oh yeah!”


DC Go Go legend Sugar Bear performs at Bladensburg Waterfront Park Thursday for PG County residents at a free live performance to deal with gun violence and bear in mind victims. (Gigi Barnett/WTOP)

The EU frontman celebrates at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia this Friday, July 12, earlier than an enormous “Birthday Bash” at Bethesda Theater in Bethesda, Maryland on July 26 and 27.

“This is my nice 50,” Sugar Bear instructed WTOP. “Let’s have a celebration, reminisce, convey your cell telephones, we’ll take photos after the present, we’re promoting EU gear, some shirts, so come on. … It’s just a little rock ‘n roll, in fact a majority go-go music, we at all times throw in a pair (covers), however primarily it’s all EU from the start to now.”

Born in North Carolina in 1974, Gregory Elliott moved along with his dad and mom to D.C. when he was simply 2 years outdated, selecting Dix Street in Northeast D.C. earlier than transferring to Valley Green Public Housing in Congress Heights.

“That’s the place Sugar Bear was born,” Sugar Bear stated. “I got here up with R&B, The Temptations, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, Mandrill, however after I acquired to Ballou High School, I used to be a rock head with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. It was a complete new period of Grand Funk Railroad, Aerosmith, you title it. … I simply love rock ‘n roll.”

In 1975, he shaped Experience Unlimited along with his classmates at Ballou High School in Southeast D.C.

“We gained the expertise present and acquired to open up for Chuck Brown,” Sugar Bear stated. “Every band wished to play The Panorama Room. … We acquired in however didn’t do too good; we have been taking part in rock music and so they wished to listen to social gathering music. … Chuck pulled me apart and stated, ‘Son, you’ve acquired expertise, however you’ve gotta play what folks wish to hear.’ That’s all I wanted, that was my mild change. That was a Friday night time and the subsequent Monday we have been taking part in go-go.”

In 1988, EU blew up on the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s sophomore movie “School Daze” (1988) because the Grammy-nominated single “Da Butt” topped the R&B charts and reached No. 35 on the general Billboard Hot 100.

“That got here from Spike Lee’s imaginative and prescient and Marcus Miller, one of many best bass gamers I’ve ever seen in my life,” Sugar Bear stated. “I sung my little hooks like, ‘Shirley acquired an enormous outdated butt, Irene acquired an enormous outdated butt,’ stuff like that, and I even performed just a little bass on it. … Ever since ‘Bustin’ Loose,’ there was nothing folks knew about go-go music, so when ‘Da Butt’ got here out it was like, ‘Wow, these things is scorching!’ It opened up the floodgates for our tradition.”

After “Da Butt,” EU signed with Virgin Records for the album “Livin’ Large” (1989), that includes a pair of Top 10 hits on the R&B charts with “Buck Wild” and “Taste of Your Love.” They additionally recorded successful collab with Salt-N-Pepa on “Shake Your Thang,” sampling each The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” and James Brown’s “Funky President.”

“We have been blessed with that and it saved EU’s title getting greater and larger across the globe,” Sugar Bear stated.

In 2021, “Da Butt” gained new life when actress Glenn Close danced to it dwell on the Oscars telecast.

“I used to be watching the Lakers (and) my telephone began ringing again to again, all these texts: ‘Turn to Channel 7, the Oscars, Glenn Close is performing ‘Da Butt!’ I stated, ‘What?’ So I did and caught it in time, wonderful,” Sugar Bear stated. “We have been popping out of the corona pandemic. … Everybody was going via psychological breakdowns, all of the deaths. I believe (‘Da Butt’ on the Oscars) was a vibrant second in our historical past as a result of it made everyone really feel good once more.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews Sugar Bear in Virginia and Maryland (Part 2)

Listen to our full dialog on the podcast under:

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