Bernie Worrell / April 19, 1944 - June 24, 2016

Classically-trained keyboardist Bernie Worrell has his place established as a major innovator in the Funk with Parliament-Funkadelic, with whom he played from about 1970 into the early '80s, and contributing to projects of other members of the mob. He brought the Bach to the Funk. He spent the '80s as a member of the Talking Heads and beyond that found an incredible amount of creative work with superproducer Bill Laswell. In his later years he was a staple on the jamband scene with Les Claypool, Govt Mule and others.

A musical prodigy from New Jersey, he was playing piano by 3 and wrote a concerto at 8. His early musical life was with the classical world, playing symphonic music. He studied at Julliard and the New England Conservatory. While at the Conservatory he was a member of the Cape Verdean R&B band that became Tavares. He joined up with George Clinton and The Parliaments and moved with them to Detroit. He was not only the keyboardist/synth player for the P-Funk empire, but also wrote and arranged several songs. He was a notable user of the Moog and the sounds of the music with it helped usher in the electro/techno age of black music. His first solo album, 1978's All The Woo In The World, was backed by members of P-Funk.

He was with the Talking Heads in the '80s and worked on Mtume's smash hit "Juicy Fruit", as well as with Fred Schneider of the B-52s, Nona Hendryx, Golden Palominos and others. He was a major collaborator with Laswell, working with him on an astounding amount of records by the likes Material, Jah Wobble, Fela Kuti, Praxis, Sly & Robbie, Last Poets, Bootsy Collins, Manu Dibango, Afrika Bambaataa, Buckethead, Ginger Baker, Carlinhos Brown, Gigi, Lee Perry, Angélique Kidjo, Pharoah Sanders, Gil Scott-Heron, Touré Kunda, Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects, James Blood Ulmer, Yothu Yindi and several others.

His last two decades found him working on a lot of his own groups, as well as being a major draw at jamband festivals. He was a member of Claypool's ensembles and worked with Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Prince Paul, Jack Bruce, Soulive and others, as well as his own Woo Warriors and the projects of several ex-P-Funkers. He passed away in 2016. His talents have graced more genres than just about anybody: funk, classical, gospel, death metal, dub, samba, out-jazz, jamband, new wave, hip-hop, techno, Afrobeat, ambient and just about everything else.

Tagged: '70s Funk Rock, '80s, Bernie Worrell, Bill Laswell, Celebrate Icons, classic albums, disco, dub, G-Funk, gear, George Clinton, gospel, metal, piano, prog, psych, rock, Sly & Robbie, soul!, soul/funk, space age, Twisted Cover Versions, Video, vintage footage

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