Funkadelic, though it was often seated behind Parliament, continued the tradition of black rock started by Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and Sly Stone. It incorporated elements from blues and psychedelia of the ’60s, as well as the deep grooves of soul and Funk. While Parliament kept to the singles format of funk, Funkadelic continued to follow the commercial artists’ success. In the late ’70s, when Funkadelic’s interplay with other bands brought the Funkadelic sound closer towards a P-Funk-style, Funkadelic was able to pursue album statements that were social/political in nature. Funkadelic started their career as a support band for George Clinton’s doo-wop group, The Parliaments. This is a grand soul tradition. After performing for nearly ten years, Parliaments added a rhythm section to their show in 1964 for background work and tours. It consisted of Frankie Boyce on guitar, Richard Boyce on bass and Langston Booth as drummer. Two years later, the three joined the Army. Clinton recruited a new backing group by mid-1967. This included his old friend Billy “Bass”, who was born January 28, 1951 in Plainfield, NJ, and Eddie Hazel, who was born April 10, 1950 in Brooklyn, NY. After several temporary replacements for keyboards and drums, Clinton added rhythm guitarist Lucius “Tawl” Ross (born October 5, 1948 in Wagram, NC) to complete the line-up. Ramon “Tiki,” Fulwood (born May 23, 1944 in Philadelphia, PA) was also added. Although the Parliaments had several hits in 1967, Clinton was forced to quit by problems with the Revilot record label. He came up with the idea of recording the backing group of the Parliaments, without changing their name. To reflect their increased influence from LSD and psychedelic cultures, Billy Nelson suggested that the name Funkadelic be used. Clinton founded Funkadelic in 1968, but the group was signed to Detroit’s Westbound label a few months later. Funkadelic’s debut album, titled Funkadelic, was released in 1970. It only listed Clinton as producer and the five Funkadelic members — Hazel Nelson, Fulwood and Ross — but it also included the ex-Parliaments and several Motown sessionmen, as well Rare Earth’s Ray Monette. The album also featured Bernie Worrell, the keyboard player, uncredited. However, his photo was on the inner sleeves with the rest. Worrell, who was born April 19, 1944 in Long Beach, NJ, was finally acknowledged on the Funkadelic’s second album (1970’s “Free Your Mind…and Your Ass will Follow”). He and Clinton had known each other since the early ’60s, and Worrell soon became the most crucial cog in the P-Funk machine, working on arrangements and production for most later Parliament/Funkadelic releases. He was a strict child and received classical training at the New England Conservatory of Music and Juilliard. This, along with the boom in synthesizer technology in the early 1970s, provided the foundation for the creation of the horn arrangements as well as jazz fusion-inspired synth runs that would later be called the P-Funk sound. P-Funk also added Bootsy Collins to their third album Maggot Brain. Collins, born October 26, 1951 in Cincinnati, OH, is best known for his throbbing bass line. He was also a member of James Brown’s backing band the J.B.’s, along with Catfish Collins, guitarist. When George Clinton first saw them, Catfish and Bootsy were already playing in a Detroit group. The Clinton/Worrell/Collins lineup premiered on 1972’s America Eats Its Young, but soon after its release several original members left the camp. After a conviction for combination drug possession/assault, Eddie Hazel was sentenced to a year in prison. Tawl Ross quit the band due to a medical issue involving an overdose of LSD. Bill Nelson quit because of financial disputes with Clinton. Funkadelic hired Michael Hampton, a teenage guitar sensation, as their replacement. However, Nelson and Hazel would both return for many later P-Funk albums. Funkadelic made the move to Warner Bros. in 1975. Hardcore Jollies was released one year later, to poor sales and mixed reviews. Westbound also raided its vaults that year and countered it with Tales of Kidd Funkadelic. Ironically, the album did worse than Hardcore Jollies. It also included an R.

Leave a Comment