Tag: Bootsy Collins

R.I.P. Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell: Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Dies
Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Bernie Worrell (GREGORY PACE/BEI/BEI/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Andrew Barker via Variety.com

Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist, songwriter and synthesizer pioneer who served as co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic with George Clinton, and was also a key Talking Heads collaborator, died on Friday after a battle with cancer, according to his Facebook page. He was 72.

Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, Worrell was the guest of honor at a massive benefit concert last April, with the likes of George Clinton, Questlove, David Byrne and Meryl Streep performing and paying tribute. In mid-June, however, his wife Judie Worrell announced his health had taken a turn, writing, “Bernie is now heading ‘Home.’”

As a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Worrell’s synth playing provided the funk innovators with some of their most distinctive and immediately recognizable elements, which subsequently became signature sounds of the more futuristic strains of R&B, and the bedrock of hip-hop’s West Coast “g-funk” wave, with Dr. Dre in particular sampling Worrell’s music continuously.

From the gurgling, staccato Minimoog bassline of “Flash Light” to the whiny, minor-key synth lines on “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” Worrell introduced a wealth of completely new elements into pop music’s sonic vocabulary. Former bandmate Bootsy Collins described Worrell as “the Jimi Hendrix of the keyboards,” while Talking Heads frontman Byrne once noted, “Bernie changed the way I think about music, and the way I think about life.”

Born George Bernard Worrell in New Jersey, Worrell began playing piano at age three, and performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at age 10. He attended Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, and met up with fellow New Jersey native George Clinton while playing in bar bands. He followed Clinton to Detroit, where Funkadelic rewrote the rules of black popular music several times over throughout the 1970s.

Worrell only appeared on a single track of Funkadelic’s 1970 self-titled debut, but he featured heavily on follow-up “Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow,” and by the time of 1971’s psych-rock freak-out masterpiece “Maggot Brain,” he was firmly ensconced in the lineup, even singing lead on single “Hit It and Quit It.”

Worrell’s role as a keyboardist, songwriter and arranger grew throughout the decade as Funkadelic and Parliament – during the ‘70s, the two groups consisted of the same core members – evolved into a more radio-friendly, dance-oriented outfit, alongside former James Brown bassist Collins, who arrived in 1972. Thanks to his grasp of classical music composition, as well as his ceaseless curiosity in exploring state-of-the-art synthesizer technology, Worrell was essential in imposing structure and melodic order onto the group’s more freewheeling experimentations.

Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” elevated the collective’s profile substantially in 1975, reaching No. 4 on the R&B album chart and becoming the first P-Funk album to go platinum. The group’s popularity peaked with Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove,” which topped the R&B chart for six straight weeks in 1978, while Parliament’s “Motor Booty Affair” and Funkadelic’s “Uncle Jam Wants You” both reached No. 2 in the months that followed. The P-Funk staples co-written by Worrell in this period include “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadaloop)” and “Flash Light,” which still stands as perhaps the group’s most widely played and influential single track.

Worrell recorded a solo album in 1978 – “All the Woo in the World,” produced by Clinton – and recorded with Collins for his splinter group Bootsy’s Rubber Band, whose 1977 album “Ahh…the Name is Bootsy, Baby!” is a particularly essential funk collection. But as loose and sprawling as the P-Funk universe could be, the spine of the group began to splinter at the end of the ‘70s, and Worrell officially left in 1981.

Shortly after his departure, Worrell was recruited by Jerry Harrison, guitarist for the art-rock/New Wave group Talking Heads, whom Worrell had never heard. Though he found their earlier music “stiff,” Worrell joined the group as a session musician, contributing synthesizers to 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues,” which would go on to become the Heads’ highest-charting release. He toured with the group for years, and his importance to their live sound is made abundantly clear in the Jonathan Demme-directed 1984 concert film, “Stop Making Sense.”

During the ‘80s, Worrell also recorded with Keith Richards, Fela Kuti, and Jack Bruce, and after the breakup of Talking Heads, he released a spate of solo albums in the early-‘90s. (1991’s “Funk of Ages” is the clear standout.) He continued to record and tour throughout the following decades, with groups the Bernie Worrell Orchestra and Bernie Worrell’s Woo Warriors, and as part of the supergroup Black Jack Johnson alongside rapper Mos Def. Worrell was the subject of Philip Di Fiore’s 2005 documentary, “Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth,” and he had a role as a member of Meryl Streep’s bar band in Demme’s 2015 feature “Ricki and the Flash.”

Worrell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997, and performed with the reunited Talking Heads during the group’s induction in 2002. Earlier this year, he was given an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music.

R.I.P. Musical Legend and Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White

Maurice White
Maurice White, center, leads Earth Wind & Fire at the Forum in Inglewood, CA on Dec. 12, 1981. (Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chris Barton via latimes.com

Maurice White, co-founder and leader of the groundbreaking ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 74. His brother and bandmate, Verdine White, confirmed the news with the Associated Press.

The source for a wealth of euphoric hits in the 1970s and early ’80s, including “Shining Star,” “September” “Reasons” and “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind & Fire borrowed elements from funk, soul, gospel and pop for a distinctive sound that yielded six double-platinum albums and six Grammy Awards.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and although White had ceased touring with the group since a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the ’90s, he remained behind the scenes as the act continued to tour, including a run of sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013.

“[Maurice White’s] unerring instincts as a musician and showman helped propel the band to international stardom, influencing countless fellow musicians in the process,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow wrote in a statement. Earth, Wind & Fire are slated to receive lifetime achievement honors from the Grammys this year.

Born in Memphis, Tenn. on Dec. 19, 1941, Maurice White sang in his church’s gospel choir at an early age, but his interest quickly gravitated to the drums. He earned his first gig backing Booker T. Jones before the organist founded the MGs. He moved to Chicago in the early ’60s and studied composition at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and eventually found work as a session drummer for the Chess and OKeh labels, where he played behind Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“That’s where I learned about the roots of music,” White told the Chicago Tribune in 1990. “I learned about playing with feeling.”

After also backing jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis in the ’60s, White moved to Los Angeles in 1969 with a band called the Salty Peppers. The group failed to gain much traction, and White changed the group’s name in 1971 to Earth, Wind and Fire, a name rooted in astrology that reflected White’s spiritual approach to music.

“In the beginning,” White told the Tribune in 1988, “My message was basically trying to relate to the community. From that it grew into more of a universal consciousness; the idea was to give the people something that was useful.”

The group’s lineup evolved through the ’70s and eventually included vocalist Phillip Bailey and White’s brother Verdine, both of whom toured with the band into this decade. The band’s reach extended into movies as well in recording the soundtrack album for Melvin Van Peebles’ landmark 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Badasss Song” and appearing in the 1978 film “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which yielded the band’s hit cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

White’s hits with Earth, Wind & Fire spanned a particularly influential space between R&B, rock and disco that remains current. His music with Earth, Wind & Fire was prominently sampled by scores of hip-hop and pop acts in recent years, including Jay-Z and 2Pac. His mix of incandescent soulfulness and suave, funky arrangements informed recent bestselling albums by Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar.

Remembrances of White came from all corners of the music world. On Twitter, Nile Rodgers, the Chic founder and record producer who was White’s peer in the ‘70s disco scene, wrote “RIP my soulful brother — You’re one of the most amazing innovators of all time.” Bootsy Collins, bassist of the funk mainstays Parliament-Funkadelic, wrote that White was a “legend, pioneer life long friend.”

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-maurice-white-earth-wind-fire-dies-20160204-story.html

Times staff writer August Brown contributed to this report.

R.I.P. Cordell Mosson, Bassist for Parliament-Funkadelic

Cordell Mosson playing bass for Parliament-Funkadelic.

Cordell Mosson, a guitarist whose bass line drove the flamboyant band Parliament-Funkadelic for four decades, died on April 18 in New Brunswick, N.J. He was 60.  The cause was liver failure, his companion, Donna Snead, said Thursday.

Mr. Mosson — Boogie to his band mates and audiences — had been a fixture of the group since the early 1970s, playing bass, drums and eventually rhythm guitar and, like the rest of George Clinton’s sprawling collective, appearing onstage in elaborate, intergalactic outfits.

He collaborated on seminal P-Funk albums like “Up for the Down Stroke” and “Funkentelechy and the Placebo Syndrome” and replaced Bootsy Collins onstage as the bassist when Mr. Collins left to focus on his solo career. (Mr. Collins still recorded with the group.) Mr. Mosson toured with the group until 2011.

In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Clinton, the band’s leader and frontman, recalled Mr. Mosson as multifaceted, able to play “all the psychedelic stuff and the Motown and the James Brown.”

“Boogie’s been playing with us since he was 13 or 14,” Mr. Clinton said, adding, “He was the heartbeat for a long time.”

Mr. Mosson appeared with the band in the 1994 film comedy “PCU,” starring Jeremy Piven, Jon Favreau and David Spade. He and 15 other members of the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Cardell Mosson Jr. was born on Oct. 16, 1952, in New Brunswick. In addition to Ms. Snead, he is survived by four daughters, LaPortia Nicholson, Lisa Brown, Latonya Snead and Ramona Perry; four sons, Chauncey Mosson, David Shropshire, Cordell Boogie Mosson and Remby Perry; a brother, the Rev. Larry Mosson; and eight grandchildren.

 article by Daniel E. Slotnik via nytimes.com