Happy birthday to the one-and-only "Maggot Brain", the funk-rock guitar god for Funkadelic, Eddie Hazel! Brooklyn-born, he grew up in Plainfield NJ, learning guitar as a kid and singing in church with future P-Funk bandmate Billy "Bass" Nelson. As teenagers the pair were working on the local Jersey scene.
In '67 Nelson hooked up with the still-local group The Parliaments, led by George Clinton, for a tour, with Hazel joining soonafter. After securing drummer Tiki Fullwood from the Philadelphia scene, the group relocated to Detroit and became Parliament. Parliament's classic first album, Osmium, came out in '70 with the Funkadelic band backing. The album's mix of funk, psych-rock and country was revolutionary and Hazel can be heard singing lead on "Little Ole Country Boy", co-wroting "There Is Nothing Before Me But Thang" and featured as lead guitarist.
Around the same time, Funkadelic was born, largely from Hazel's vision of having an acid rock-meets-funk group, as well as a crafty idea by Clinton to sign with another record label with largely the same band with a different name -- Funkadelic. Prominently featured on the first three Funkadelic albums, Funkadelic, Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow and Maggot Brain, his lengthy searing solo on "Maggot Brain's title cut is stuff of legend, with one critic calling it the band's A Love Supreme. He also appeared, with the rest of the Funkadelics, on Ruth Copeland's first two albums.
Some drug problems dimmed his star a little bit, contributing a bit less on P-Funk albums until his major involvement in one of my favorites, Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On ('74). He also contributed to a couple of psychedelic Temptations albums around this time. Hazel's solo album, Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs, featured the P-Funk posse backing him. Other outtakes and jams have been issued under his name through the years as well. In '78 he played several instruments on Bonnie Pointer's debut album. He continued to work sporadically with Clinton and his P-Funk associates (including on Computer Games), as well as appearing on some Bill Laswell projects.
The man took the Jimi Hendrix thing into new territory and helped birth (for better or worse) "funk-metal". Aside from the dozens of soul/funk/disco artists who have covered his P-Funk tunes like "Super Stoopid" and "Shakey Ground", "Maggot Brain" itself has been covered in a number of interesting versions. Check out this link for some of them.
Here are some Eddie jamz from his heart:
Here's the OG of "Maggot Brain":
Essential E and essential P:
Eddie on vocals on this one:
"Red Hot Mama", the OG, one of the nastiest songs ever:
Eddie in action, '79:
My favorite cover version of "California Dreaming":
From the Bill Laswell-produced P-Funk offshoot Axiom Funk, featuring contributions by Eddie. The project was completed and released after he passed away.