Saturday, June 25, 2016

Funkobit: Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell, co-founder of Funkadelic and Parliament, has died.

As The Guardian's obituary observes, in effect he was paid in exposure:

Worrell’s contributions as a keyboardist, writer and arranger didn’t bring him a lot of money, the source of much legal action and fierce criticism of Clinton, but fellow musicians paid attention.
As a result, when he was fighting cancer it took a fundraiser to help cover his medical expensese. Although it was a pretty impressive fundraiser.

He had a varied career - he was part of the band featured in Rikki And The Flash, the so-so Meryl Streep movie; he played with Talking Heads during their imperial phase. And, perhaps less magnificently, he was part of Buckethead's post-Guns N Roses existence:

Worrell had been inspired to take up the synth by Emerson, Lake And Palmer. From a Passion of the Weiss interview last year:
I have to say when I was in college at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. I had an Emerson, Lake & Palmer [album]. That’s when I first heard the Moog synthesizer.

It tickled my fancy. That was a big one. [Note: Emerson played an enormous Moog modular synth.] After joining P-Funk, they came out with the Minimoog, which is the granddaddy after the one that Keith Emerson [played]. I bought one, and then came “Flash Light.” And “One Nation” bass line, that’s a Minimoog. Bass line on “Aqua Boogie,” that’s a Minimoog. There’s actually three Minimoogs on “Flash Light.” Everybody gravitates towards the bass line, but there’s two more doing cartoon voices.
With Worrell so influential on black music, this does mean that Emerson, Lake & Palmer are legitimately one of the founding forces of hip-hop. Kind of.