Founding Member of Celebrated Go-Go Band Rare Essence Remembered

In Memoriam

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By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, mgreen@54.204.251.142

About 2 a.m. on April 20, Rory Felton, better known as “DC”, founding member of the famed go-go band Rare Essence, was found dead of stab wounds in an apartment in Southwest, Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post reported Felton, 57, was discovered in the Bellevue neighborhood with at least two stab wounds.  An adored member of the music community, the details of what happened to Felton remain unclear and police have not disclosed any suspect or motive.

Rory Felton was found stabbed to death. Police have no suspects. (Courtesy photo)

“Everyone that knew him knows what a great guy he was and how much he loved being a part of the DMV music community,” said Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson, a fellow founding member of Rare Essence.

While his physical presence is gone, Felton’s family and friends continue to remember the member of the legendary go-go group, whose saxophone sounds helped set the tone for some of the band’s most classic sounds, like “Take A Little Ride Through the City,” which he co-wrote.

“That’s how he lived his life,” Penny Felton, his wife of 27 years, told The Washington Post. “He loved outside, he loved the city,” Mrs. Felton remembered about her husband, who although originally from Halifax, Virginia, moved to the District as a teen and ended up falling in love with the culture the go-go scene.

Kevin Kato Hammond, whose Take Me Out to the Go-Go Magazine covers D.C.’s go-go scene, called Felton’s saxophone solo on “Take A Little Ride Through the City” his signature performance.

“Rest in musical harmony, DC,” Hammond wrote on his web site. “We’re going to continue taking a little ride through the city for YOU.”

Although known as a cowbell player and saxophonist, Felton was also remembered as a standout on and off the stage.

“His creativity, energy, style (especially with those hats he wore) were great, along with the smooth dance moves. He was a frontline member that stood out,” Johnson told the AFRO.

Felton is now being name checked in the same breath as go-go legends who have died such as Chuck Brown and Rare Essence front man, Lil Benny.

“As well as being in the horn section he and Lil Benny were the best steppers we’ve ever had,” Johnson said. “They were very smooth and on point.  It was a real pleasure watching those two perform.”

Before Felton’s passing, Johnson said the band was planning on doing a series of shows with the “Original Rare Essence” band members.  “Now we are starting to think about more of a tribute show of sort.  We’re still trying to figure it out,” Johnson said.

In the meantime, Johnson suggests Felton and Rare Essence fans watch “old school” videos in order to remember the saxophonist and enjoy the music that continues to live on despite his passing.

Felton’s wife imagines her husband continuing to play music in the afterlife.

“He always stated that he will always be playing is music,” she told The Washington Post.  “So I suspect that he’s playing with [Lil] Benny and Footz and Chuck Brown playing his music.”