HAPPY FREAKIN' BIRTHDAY TO THE WIZARD OF WOO!!!
As much (and sometimes more than) George Clinton, Bernie Worrell has been the architect of the Parliament-Funkadelic sound, one of the late 20th century's most permeating influences, stretching far beyond the corridors of "funk" or "soul" and into music as a whole. Tomorrow, Worrell turns 65 and we want the whole world to sing him a hearty "Happy Birthday."
His work has touched the Talking Heads, Les Claypool and myriad others (including some REALLY nice work with the Eric McFadden Trio in recent years), and his creativity seems limitless and often unlike any other keyboardist in history. We offer up a tiny smattering of his work in celebration of his birth and encourage y'all to make your funk the P-Funk this weekend…
Let's jump on an insect and enjoy some quality improvising from Worrell, Warren Haynes, Will Calhoun (Living Colour) and Brett Bass.
While Parliament- Funkadelic is legendary for their sonic Viagra-like jams, it's Worrell's arrangements and horn charts that often provide much of the crispness and punch to their trademark sound. To wit, this ditty from Houston in 1976.
Most musicians would be super fortunate to be part of one massively influential band in their lifetime. Bernie Worrell has two, and though never an official member, his role in the Heads in the 1980s was pivotal. Here they are throwing sparks in Germany in 1980.
Bernie has a jester's wit and a broad sense of play that he brings to the stage. For example, this craziness from back in the day, just one of the broad strokes he helped cook up that had P-Funk filling stadiums in the '70s.
Worrell's compositional sense can often be detected most clearly in later period Parliament like this wriggling salute to hitting it from the back, captured in rump-diddly-umptious style in 1981.
Dig this ultra-rare mix of musicians tearing up Creem's "White Room." The man keeps heavy company!
A vintage look at the boys at their start. Dig the juxtaposition of show host and this gaggle of super freaks.
No salute to Bernie would be complete without this Widescreen rock epic. This version is tinged with wonderful Pink Floyd patina, proof that Worrell is always listening to what's happening around him. And then he ingests it for his own sustenance…and ours.
Things gets weird with this super nutty lineup, which includes Marc Ribot and Arto Lindsey on guitars. Play loud to scrape some paint off the walls.
Let's boogie off into the weekend with our hands raised high and our spirits to match. Thanks for the music, Mr. Worrell. We think you're the freakin' bee's knees, brother!
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