Charlie Brown Jr.

Charlie Brown Jr. (also simply known as Charlie Brown and sometimes abbreviated as CBJr.) was a two-time Latin Grammy Award-winning Brazilian alternative rock band from Santos, São Paulo. Known for their lyrics laden with social criticism and skate punk/hip hop jargon appealing to marginalized youth, they were one of the most famous Brazilian acts of the late 1990s/early to mid-2000s;[1] their success, though, was frequently overshadowed by controversies and clashes regarding vocalist (and only founding member to remain consistently in all of the group's line-ups) Chorão and his bandmates, his feuds with other musicians (more famously with Marcelo Camelo of Los Hermanos), and his struggle with drug abuse. According to a survey made by streaming platform Deezer in 2015, Charlie Brown Jr. was the second most-listened Brazilian band outside Brazil, losing only to Sepultura;[2] in another survey by Spotify, also from 2015, they were placed 31st out of 47 bands and artists.[3]

Charlie Brown Jr.
The band performing in Porto Alegre, 2012. To the left is vocalist Chorão, and to the right drummer Bruno Graveto
The band performing in Porto Alegre, 2012. To the left is vocalist Chorão, and to the right drummer Bruno Graveto
Background information
Also known asCharlie Brown
CBJr.
OriginSantos, São Paulo, Brazil
GenresSurf rock, skate punk, hardcore punk, alternative rock, rap rock, hip hop, funk rock, reggae rock, pop rock, pop punk, rapcore, melodic hardcore, ska punk
Years active
  • 1992–2013

(reunions: 2019, 2021)

LabelsVirgin Records, EMI, Sony Music, Som Livre, Universal Music Group, Radar Records
Associated actsRodolfo Abrantes, Negra Li, CPM 22, Marcelo Nova, O Rappa, MV Bill, Paranormal Attack, Planet Hemp, João Gordo, Zeca Baleiro, Revolucionnários, TH6, A Banca, Bula, Rappin' Hood, Forfun, Strike, D'Chapas
Past membersSee below

Following Chorão's death due to a cocaine overdose on March 6, 2013, the band ceased its activities and its remaining members regrouped as A Banca in April, intending to continue performing as a "tribute act/spiritual successor" to Charlie Brown Jr.; however, A Banca only lasted for five months as their frontman, Champignon, committed suicide on September 9.

In 2019, garnering much controversy and negative reception from long-time fans and acquaintances of Chorão, Marcão, Heitor Gomes and André Pinguim reunited Charlie Brown Jr. for a series of shows with guest vocalists held throughout the year. They were reunited once again in 2021 for the "Chorão 50 Tour", a special tour around Brazil commemorating Chorão's 50th birthday.

HistoryEdit

Early years: What's Up, first demo tape and Transpiração Contínua Prolongada (1987–1997)Edit

Charlie Brown Jr. arose from the ashes of What's Up, a project formed by Chorão in 1987 shortly after his move from São Paulo to Santos.[4] Following a line-up change in 1990, bassist Champignon (at the time only 12 years old) was invited to the band, and soon Marcão, Renato Pelado and Thiago Castanho joined. What's Up continued to play until 1992, when Chorão decided the band was reaching nowhere and decided to revamp it under a new name; he eventually settled on "Charlie Brown Jr.", explaining that "Charlie Brown" came to him after recalling a time when he crashed with his car into a coconut stand with a drawing of the eponymous character of Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts on it, and the "Jr." alluding to the fact that he considered his band to be "the children of rock", following the lead of other famous groups at the time such as Raimundos, Nação Zumbi, Planet Hemp and O Rappa.[5] Around this time the band produced their first-ever music video, but it was lost with time; excerpts of it would only resurface in 2017.[6] In late 2020, Marcão uploaded to his official YouTube channel a rare demo tape by What's Up, originally recorded in 1992.[7]

Both What's Up and, initially, Charlie Brown Jr. developed a heavy style influenced by crossover thrash and hardcore punk, with lyrics in English; some of Chorão's greatest inspirations were Blink-182, Sublime, Bad Brains, NOFX, Suicidal Tendencies, Biohazard, Faith No More and 311.[8] The band initially struggled to make a breakthrough; as most of the members didn't have money to afford their own instruments, they had to rent or borrow them, and were forced to cancel performances when instruments were unavailable. Champignon, who was underaged, needed a permit signed by his parents to perform at any gig. In 1995 they recorded their first demo tape, the self-titled Charlie Brown Jr.; to finance recording, Champignon had to pawn one of his bass guitars, and Chorão a television set.[9] The tape had a positive reception in the underground scene of Santos,[10] motivating Champignon to show it to his friend, record producer Tadeu Patolla. Patolla was impressed by it, but advised Chorão to sing in Portuguese and experiment more with other genres, such as hip hop, reggae and ska, taking Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine as references.[11][12] Subsequently, Patolla introduced the group to fellow producer Rick Bonadio, and they secured the group a contract with Virgin Records; their debut album, Transpiração Contínua Prolongada, came out through the label in 1997, amidst positive reception.

 
Chorão and Champignon (on the background) performing in 2012

Preço Curto... Prazo Longo, Nadando com os Tubarões, Thiago Castanho's departure, Abalando a Sua Fábrica and first DVD (1999–2002)Edit

In early 1999 the band released a promotional extended play entitled Aquele Luxo!, intended to a serve as a teaser for a forthcoming album; Preço Curto... Prazo Longo came out on March 6, 1999,[13][14] and totaling 25 tracks, was the band's longest album. Chorão later elaborated that it was recorded out of necessity, as Charlie Brown Jr. still didn't have much original repertoire for the set list of their shows. "Zoio D Lula", the album's first single which came out on April 1, 1999,[15] was their first song to reach the first place in Brazilian radios. A music video was made for the song, featuring a then-19-year-old Luize Altenhofen.[16]

Nadando com os Tubarões, Charlie Brown Jr.'s third album, was released on November 2000, and counted with guest appearances by rap group RZO (still fronted by Sabotage at the time[17]) and up-and-coming singer Negra Li, who co-wrote the album's greatest hit, "Não É Sério".[18] The album awarded the band its first nomination to a Latin Grammy Award for Best Portuguese Language Rock or Alternative Album in 2001. Shortly after its release guitarist Thiago Castanho parted ways with Charlie Brown Jr., citing his dissatisfaction with their extensive touring schedule.

Their fourth album, Abalando a Sua Fábrica, came out on April 30, 2001; it was their first release as a quartet, and through new label EMI. Abalando a Sua Fábrica sees the band shifting away from their previous rap rock-inflected sonority, advancing towards a "rawer" style more influenced by punk and garage rock.[19] It was also recorded with all instrumental parts simultaneously instead of one at a time, as if they were recording live.[20] The following year saw the release of their first live DVD, Charlie Brown Jr. ao Vivo, recorded at a gig at the DirecTV Music Hall in São Paulo, later to be broadcast by direct broadcast satellite service provider DirecTV.[21]

Bocas Ordinárias, Acústico MTV, Tamo Aí na Atividade and hiatus (2002–2005)Edit

By 2002 Charlie Brown Jr. was famous enough to tour internationally, with a leg in Portugal; after reading in a Portuguese newspaper a negative critic calling them "bocas ordinárias" (a Portuguese popular expression designating a foulmouthed person), Chorão decided this would be the name of their next album.[22] Bocas Ordinárias was considered one of the band's finest albums by fans and critics alike, awarding them a second nomination for the Latin Grammy Award in 2003; Chorão dedicated it in memory of his friend, fellow singer Cássia Eller, who died the year prior.[23]

In 2003 they were invited by now-defunct MTV Brasil to take part on their Acústico MTV series, the Brazilian equivalent of MTV Unplugged; their entry, released both in CD and DVD formats on September 20, 2003, was critically acclaimed and counted with guest appearances by Marcelo D2 and Marcelo Nova, seeing the return of RZO and Negra Li.[24][25]

Their sixth studio album, Tamo Aí na Atividade, which came out in December 2004, was their first release to win the Latin Grammy Award in 2005; however, its recording sessions were plagued by creative divergences and clashes between Chorão and his bandmates, and by early 2005 Champignon, Marcão and Renato Pelado announced they would be leaving the group.[26] Chorão then announced Charlie Brown Jr. would be on hiatus for indeterminate time, leading many to speculate that the band was splitting up.[27] Following his departure from Charlie Brown Jr., Champignon formed his own band, Revolucionnários,[28] and after it split up he joined the supergroup Nove Mil Anjos alongside Junior Lima of Sandy & Junior fame and Pitty guitarist Peu Sousa.[29] Marcão also formed his project, TH6,[30][31] while Renato Pelado became a DJ.

Line-up changes, Imunidade Musical, Ritmo, Ritual e Responsa and André Pinguim's departure (2005–2008)Edit

Charlie Brown Jr. returned from their hiatus with a new line-up, comprising bassist Heitor Gomes, drummer/beatboxer André Pinguim and original founding member Thiago Castanho returning as guitarist.[32] Their first album with this new formation, Imunidade Musical, counted with a guest appearance by rapper Rappin' Hood and awarded them their third nomination for a Latin Grammy Award in 2006. Around the same time they released a new DVD, Skate Vibration, recorded at the inauguration of Chorão's skatepark and venue, aptly named Chorão Skate Park, which closed down in 2014.

2007 saw the release of Ritmo, Ritual e Responsa, described as the first part of the soundtrack of the film O Magnata [pt], which was written and co-produced by Chorão and counted with cameos by him and his other Charlie Brown Jr. bandmates. Bands and artists such as MV Bill, João Gordo, Paranormal Attack and Forfun served as guest musicians.[33] Ritmo, Ritual e Responsa awarded Charlie Brown Jr. its fourth nomination to a Latin Grammy Award in 2008; O Magnata, though, despite being a moderate box office success, received mostly mixed to negative reviews.[34][35][36] A DVD of a performance of the band promoting the album's release, Ritmo, Ritual e Responsa ao Vivo, came out in 2008; however, Pinguim was no longer a member of the group by the time it was released – his contract had expired, and both parties were uninterested in renewing it. He was subsequently replaced by Bruno Graveto.

Camisa 10 Joga Bola Até na Chuva, Heitor Gomes' departure, return of Champignon and Marcão, and Música Popular Caiçara (2009–2012)Edit

 
From left to right: Thiago Castanho, Chorão and Heitor Gomes at a show in 2011

Camisa 10 Joga Bola Até na Chuva, Charlie Brown Jr.'s ninth album and second one to win the Latin Grammy Award in 2010, was also their final release with Heitor Gomes, who left in 2011 to join CPM 22. "Só os Loucos Sabem" became one of the band's highest-charting hits,[37] and "O Dom, a Inteligência e a Voz", originally written by Chorão for Cássia Eller in 2001, was intended to be recorded by Eller for her album Dez de Dezembro, but she died before she could do so.[38]

In 2010 the band composed the opening theme of the variety show Legendários, hosted by Marcos Mion on RecordTV.[39]

In 2011 Chorão announced that Marcão and Champignon would be returning to the band after six years away, and in the following year, their first recording under this new line-up, Música Popular Caiçara, was released, under CD, DVD and Blu-ray formats. Recorded during two gigs in 2011, one in Curitiba and the other in Santos, it was produced by Liminha and directed by KondZilla. The DVD and Blu-ray versions came out first; the CD version was split in two volumes, the first of which was released concomitantly with the DVD and Blu-ray versions. The second volume was only released four years later, in 2016.

It was also by 2011 when Chorão's drug abuse issues began to take their toll on his life and health, causing his divorce with long-time companion Graziela Gonçalves, whom he affectionately nicknamed "Grazon"; the song "Céu Azul", present in Música Popular Caiçara, was written for her following the event.[40]

 
Charlie Brown Jr. performing in Araçatuba, 2011

Deaths of Chorão and Champignon, A Banca, La Familia 013 and subsequent events (2013–2021)Edit

In 2012 the band announced they began work on a new studio album, entitled La Familia 013;[41] its first single to premiere was "Meu Novo Mundo", in February 2013. On March 6, Chorão was found dead in his apartment following a cocaine overdose[42][43] and the album was left unfinished, although he had finished recording all of his vocal parts prior to his death. After a brief hiatus, the band resumed work on the instrumental parts that had yet to be finished, and the album's cover art was officially unveiled on July 7, 2013.[44]

Following the death of Chorão, the remaining band members decided to form A Banca, a new musical project that would serve as a tribute act both to him and Charlie Brown Jr..[45] In August they released the single "O Novo Passo",[46][47][48] chosen by Rolling Stone Brasil one of the best Brazilian songs of the year.[49] Nevertheless, a parcel of Charlie Brown Jr. fans criticized Champignon for "not respecting Chorão's death" and "not mourning it properly", going to the point of dismissing him as a "cash-grabber", a "traitor" and a "Judas".[50] Even though Champignon always vehemently denied such claims,[51] constant criticism eventually lead him to sink into a major depression,[52] and on September 9, 2013, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a .380 ACP pistol.[53][54]

La Familia 013 was released posthumously, on October 8, 2013, awarding the band its fifth and final nomination for a Latin Grammy Award in 2014. With the exception of Thiago Castanho, the extant members of A Banca later regrouped as Bula,[55] and also went on to form D'Chapas.[56][57][58]

On April 13, 2014, Chorão's son Alexandre organized the "Tamo Aí na Atividade Festival" in São Bernardo do Campo, to celebrate the legacy of Charlie Brown Jr. and the deaths of his father and Champignon. The date coincides with the 22nd anniversary of the band's first ever live performance in 1992.[59] Even though a DVD of the festival was initially planned, Alexandre stated that, in the end, the performances wouldn't be able to be filmed owing to "bureaucratic reasons".[60]

On March 29, 2015, a biographical musical about Chorão entitled Dias de Luta, Dias de Glória premiered, written by Well Rianc and directed by Bruno and Luiz Sorrentino. Rapper DZ6 starred as Chorão.[61][62] Despite good critical reception, Chorão's brother Ricardo Abrão lambasted it as being "disrespectful" and "innacurate".[63]

In 2017 Alexandre published the book Eu Estava Lá Também, a compilation of photographs and memoirs from his father, dating from 2005–2012;[64][65] in 2020 he would reveal that, shortly after his death, he had ordered a diamond made of a lock of his father's hair.[66] Chorão's widow Graziela Gonçalves also published her memoirs, Se Não Eu, Quem Vai Fazer Você Feliz?, in 2018.

On April 9, 2019, to celebrate what would have been Chorão's 49th birthday and the 20th anniversary of the release of Charlie Brown Jr.'s single "Zoio D Lula", Universal Music Group re-issued it in a special edition containing both its original version and a new cover featuring singers Marcelo D2 and Hungria Hip Hop, and bands Nação Zumbi and Maneva.[67][68][69] Two years prior, UMG also re-released the band's debut Transpiração Contínua Prolongada in a special 20th-anniversary deluxe edition.[70]

On July 28, 2020, it was confirmed that the band's song "Confisco", off their 1999 album Preço Curto... Prazo Longo, would be included in the soundtrack of the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.[71][72]

On March 15, 2021, Alexandre struck a deal with Sony Music with the intent of releasing posthumous compilations of outtakes and other rarities by Charlie Brown Jr..[73]

Reunions (2019, 2021)Edit

In January 2019, Marcão, André Pinguim and Heitor Gomes reunited Charlie Brown Jr. for a series of shows held throughout the year, with guest vocalists such as Dinho Ouro Preto [pt] of Capital Inicial, Di Ferrero [pt] of NX Zero, Digão [pt] of Raimundos and Supla.[74] Even though the reunion had the approval of Chorão's son,[75] many controversies ensued and it was heavily criticized by Chorão's widow Graziela Gonçalves,[76] former guitarist Thiago Castanho[77] and music critic Mauro Ferreira of G1.[78]

On February 1, 2021, Chorão's son announced that the band would reunite again for a special tour around Brazil celebrating what would have been his father's 50th birthday in 2020, the Chorão 50 Tour.[79] Thiago Castanho, who had criticized their previous 2019 reunion, stated that he would return as guitarist.[80] Fronted by former Tihuana vocalist Egypcio, their line-up comprised all former Charlie Brown Jr. bandmembers with the exception of first drummer Renato Pelado.[81]

Films: Marginal Alado and Champ (2021)Edit

Shortly after Chorão's death in 2013, film producers Felipe Elias, Victor Santini Stockler and Roberta Franco launched a crowdfunding campaign on website Catarse to finance a documentary about his story with Charlie Brown Jr. entitled Marginal Alado; it reached R$41,513.00, surpassing its original intended goal of R$35,000.00.[82] Directed by Felipe Novaes, the film initially premiered across festivals in Brazil in 2019[83] and was scheduled to receive a wide theatrical release at some point in 2020,[84] but as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic its release date was eventually postponed to April 8, 2021.[85]

On September 4, 2020, actor José Loreto expressed his desire to portray Chorão in a potential biopic about him.[86]

In 2017, filmmaker Gabriel Mellin announced he was working on biopic about Champignon, entitled Champ, which focuses on his relationship with Chorão. The script was being written by him alongside the musician's widow, Claudia Bossle.[87][88][89] Since then, however, no further announcements were made.

Band membersEdit

  • Chorão – vocals (1992–2013)
  • Champignon – bass guitar, beatboxing, additional vocals (1992–2005, 2011–2013)
  • Marcão – electric guitar, additional vocals (1992–2005, 2011–2013, 2019, 2021)
  • André Pinguim – drums, beatboxing (2005–2008, 2019, 2021)
  • Heitor Gomes – bass guitar (2005–2011, 2019, 2021)
  • Thiago Castanho – electric guitar, additional vocals (1992–2001, 2005–2013, 2021)
  • Bruno Graveto – drums (2008–2013, 2021)
  • Renato Pelado – drums (1992–2005)

DiscographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit