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.

Leave will screw the music industry, too

While as a nation we try to come to terms with just how self-defeating half of our compatriots are, you might be wondering what it means for music.

Before the vote, Pitchfork warned that it would probably be bad:

British media coverage of EU funding trains a negative focus on all the so-called red tape you have to endure to access it. But there are endless EU programs that benefit the music industry, which Britain excels at securing: In 2012, UK applications (in general, not just for music) had a 46 percent success rate, almost double the average success rate of 24 percent. If the UK leaves the EU, in all likelihood, that funding will no longer be available. The benefits of this money are vast, wide-reaching, and often not obvious to the public. The Village Underground, a well-appointed, 1000-capacity warehouse venue in east London, currently benefits from two EU programs. Liveurope pays them to host emerging European bands support slots on bigger bills, giving these acts the chance to get out of their own countries, and prompting venues to have a more diverse program. Creative Lenses is a four-year investigation into new business models for the cultural sector.
The BPI issued a statement:
“The outcome of the EU Referendum will come as a surprise to many across the music community, who will be concerned by the economic uncertainty that lies ahead and the impact this may have on business prospects.
"However, the UK public has spoken, and once the short-term political and macro-economic consequences have played out, this decision will mean new priorities for the music industry in our work with Government. We will, of course, press the Government to swiftly negotiate trade deals that will ensure unimpeded access to EU markets for our music and our touring artists. Our Government will also now have the opportunity to legislate for stronger domestic copyright rules that encourage investment here in the UK and which will protect UK creators from piracy and from tech platforms siphoning off value through copyright loopholes. We are confident that British music will remain hugely popular across Europe and we will work hard to make sure UK labels are able to capitalise on that demand.”