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Bernie Worrell: One of the Worlds Most Innovative Keyboardists and Co-Founder of Parliament-Funkadelic Transitions at Age 72

His musical life began early — according to his official biography, he started studying piano at age 3, wrote his first concerto at age 8 and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., at 10. The classically trained keyboardist (he studied at Juilliard and the New England Conservatory of Music) made his name — and an indelible mark on music — in the world of P-Funk. Worrell, aka "The Wizard of Woo," was an early member of Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton's sprawling, theatrical and wildly influential funk collective.Camila Domonoske



Dr. George Bernard "Bernie" Worrell, Jr. (April 19, 1944 – June 24, 2016)[1] was an American keyboardist and composer best known as a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic and for his work with Talking Heads. He was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.

From Left: Bernie Worrell, Grady Thomas, unident., Fuzzy Haskins, George Clinton, Tiki Fulwood, unident., Michael Hampton, unident., Calvin Simon of the funk band Parliament-Funkadelic.  Circa 1974.

Early life

Worrell was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey. A musical prodigy, he began formal piano lessons by age three and wrote a concerto at age eight. He went on to study at Juilliard and the New England Conservatory of Music.

One Nation Under A Groove
Full Album
 


1970s

As a college student around 1970, Worrell played with a group called Chubby & The Turnpikes (later to be known as Tavares). The drummer in that band was Joey Kramer, who left in October 1970 to be a founding member of the rock band Aerosmith. After meeting George Clinton, leader of a doo wop group called The Parliaments, Worrell, Clinton, The Parliaments and their backing band, The Funkadelics, moved to Detroit, Michigan, and became collectively known as Parliament-Funkadelic. During the 1970s the same group of musicians separately recorded under the names Parliament and Funkadelic, (among several others), but toured as P-Funk. Worrell played grand piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Hohner Clavinet, Hammond B3 organ, ARP String Ensemble and Moog synthesizer, co-wrote, and wrote horn and rhythm arrangements on hit recordings for both groups and other associated bands under the "Parliafunkadelicment Thang" production company, and many of his most notable performances were recorded with Bootsy's Rubber Band, Parlet, The Brides of Funkenstein and The Horny Horns. Worrell recorded a 1978 solo album, All the Woo in the World, with the musical backing of P-Funk's members.

Atomic Dog


While funk musicians traditionally utilized electric keyboards, such as the Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes electric piano, Worrell was the second recipient of the Moog synthesizer created by Bob Moog. Mainly responsible for creating Parliament's futuristic sound, Worrell's use of the Minimoog bass on the Parliament song "Flash Light", on 1977's Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome, heavily influenced the sound of R&B music and served as a bridge between American R&B and the insurgence of new wave, new age and techno. He used the ARP Pro Soloist as well.[2] Worrell's synthesizer work is prominent on the majority of Parliament's most popular (and most sampled)[citation needed] songs throughout the 1970s, most notably "Mothership Connection (Star Child)" and "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" from Mothership Connection (1975) and "Aqua Boogie" from Motor Booty Affair (1978).

1980s

When Parliament-Funkadelic took a hiatus from touring in the early 1980s, Worrell was recruited, along with other musicians from differing musical genres such as guitarist Adrian Belew, to perform and record with Talking Heads, a pioneering new wave band. Worrell's experience and feel for different arrangements enhanced the overall sound of the band. Though he never officially joined Talking Heads, he was a de facto member of the group for most of the '80s, appearing on one of their studio albums, several solo albums, and multiple tours until they officially disbanded in 1991. Worrell can be seen in the band's concert film Stop Making Sense. Worrell was invited to perform with Talking Heads at their one-off reunion as part of their 2002 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3]

Worrell co-produced Fred Schneider's 1984 solo album Fred Schneider and the Shake Society and played keyboards and synthesizers on some of the album's tracks.
1990s–2010s

Maggot Brain
Full Album



From the late 1980s through the 2010s, Worrell recorded extensively with Bill Laswell, including Sly and Robbie's Laswell-produced Rhythm Killers and the 1985 Fela Kuti album Army Arrangement. Worrell performed with Gov't Mule. Through the beginning of the 21st century, he became a visible member of the jam band scene, performing in many large summer music festivals, sometimes billed as Bernie Worrell and the Woo Warriors. He appeared on several Jack Bruce albums, including A Question of Time, Cities of the Heart, Monkjack and More Jack than God.


Bernie Worrell performs at Moog Fest - 2016.

In 1994, Worrell appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in the African-American community,[4] was heralded as "Album of the Year" by TIME Magazine.[5]

Worrell joined the rock group Black Jack Johnson, with Mos Def, Will Calhoun, Doug Wimbish and Dr. Know. He appears with the band on Mos Def's 2004 release The New Danger.

Worrell joined forces with bass legend Les Claypool, guitarist Buckethead and drummer Bryan Mantia to form the group Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains.

Flash Light


Worrell's project Baby Elephant was a collaboration with Stetsasonic member/De La Soul producer Prince Paul and longtime Paul associate Don Newkirk. Released September 11, 2007, Turn My Teeth Up! featured George Clinton, Shock G, Yellowman, Reggie Watts, Nona Hendryx, David Byrne and Gabby La La. In 2009, he joined longtime Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer J.T. Lewis to form the band SociaLybrium. Their album For You/For Us/For All was released on Livewired Music in January 2010.

Worrell appeared in the 2004 documentary film Moog with synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog and several other Moog synthesizer musicians. In 2011, he toured with Bootsy Collins, another major figure from Parliament-Funkadelic.

From 2011 through 2015, Worrell performed with his group, the Bernie Worrell Orchestra. The band became known for the appearance of special guests at live performances, including Bootsy Collins, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Jimmy Destri, Mike Watt, Rah Digga and Gary Lucas.

Worrell worked on the Seattle based Khu.éex' project fusing traditional Tlingit music with funk, jazz, and experimental music. The protect includes Preston Singletary, Skerik, Stanton Moore, and Randall Dunn among others.

In 2015, Worrell appeared in the movie Ricki and the Flash as the keyboard player in Meryl Streep's band. The movie reunited Worrell with director Jonathan Demme, who had directed Stop Making Sense.

Worrell was a judge for the 12th, 13th, and 14th annual Independent Music Awards.

During May 2016, the New England Conservatory of Music gave Worrell, who studied at the school until 1967, an honorary Doctor of Music degree.[6]
Personal life

In January 2016, Worrell was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.[7] He relocated from New Jersey, his long-time home,[8] to Bellingham, Washington.[9]

A tribute and benefit concert to raise funds for Worrell's cancer treatment, produced by the Black Rock Coalition and featuring musicians with whom Worrell has worked over his career, occurred on April 4 and 5, 2016.[9][10]

On May 9, Worrell's wife Judie posted an update on his condition on his Facebook page:

As of Friday, Bernie can barely speak. Tumor has grown and Recurrent laryngeal nerve is pressing on vocal cord, paralyzing it. Treatment starts Tuesday to (hopefully) shrink tumor before it gets to other vocal cord and/or shuts down breathing. VERY difficult time for him.

I am updating y'all because many asked BUT do not consider this an invitation to bombard us with treatment ideas. Bernie is deciding what treatment he wants. I will delete any more messages that do not respect his decision(s).[11]

Judie Worrell issued a statement on Facebook on June 16 to friends and family that "I was just told that Bernie is now headed 'Home'."[12] She encouraged people close to Worrell to "visit him to say your goodbyes" and added that he is too ill to speak on the phone or text.[12] He died at the age of 72 on June 24, 2016.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Ralph Stanley, Master of Appalachian Bluegrass — Transitions at Age 89




Ralph Edmund Stanley (February 25, 1927 – June 23, 2016), also known as Dr. Ralph Stanley, was an American bluegrass artist, known for his distinctive singing and banjo playing. Stanley began playing music in 1946, originally with his brother Carter as part of The Stanley Brothers, and most often as the leader of his band, The Clinch Mountain Boys.

Oh Death
From the film 'O, Brother, Where Art Thou?'


He was part of the first generation of bluegrass musicians and was inducted into both the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Grand Ole Opry.

Biography

Ralph Edmond Stanley was born, grew up, and lived in rural Southwest Virginia—"in a little town called McClure at a place called Big Spraddle, just up the holler" from where he moved in 1936 and lived ever since in Dickenson County.[1] The son of Lee and Lucy Stanley, Ralph did not grow up around a lot of music in his home. As he says, his "daddy didn't play an instrument, but sometimes he would sing church music. And I'd hear him sing songs like 'Man of Constant Sorrow,' 'Pretty Polly' and 'Omie Wise.'"[1]
I got my first banjo when I was a teenager. I guess I was 15, 16 years old. My aunt had this old banjo, and Mother bought it for me ... paid $5 for it, which back then was probably like $5,000. [My parents] had a little store, and I remember my aunt took it out in groceries.[1]
He learned to play the banjo, clawhammer style, from his mother:
She had 11 brothers and sisters, and all of them could play the five-string banjo. She played gatherings around the neighborhood, like bean stringin's. She tuned it up for me and played this tune, "Shout Little Luly," and I tried to play it like she did. But I think I developed my own style of the banjo.[1]
He graduated from high school on May 2, 1945 and was inducted into the Army on May 16, serving "little more than a year." He immediately began performing when he got home:
... my daddy and Carter picked me up from the (station), and Carter was playing with another group, Roy Sykes and the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys, and they had a personal appearance that night. So I sung a song with Carter on the radio before I even got home.[2]
Clinch Mountain Boys

After considering a course in "veterinary", he decided instead to throw in with his older guitar-playing brother Carter Stanley (1925–1966) to form the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946. Drawing heavily on the musical traditions of the area, which included the unique minor-key singing style of the Primitive Baptist Universalist church and the sweet down-home family harmonies of the Carter Family, the two Stanley brothers began playing on local radio stations. They first performed at Norton, Virginia's WNVA, but did not stay long there, moving on instead to Bristol, Virginia, and WCYB to start the show Farm and Fun Time, where they stayed "off and on for 12 years".[2]

At first they covered "a lot of Bill Monroe music" (one of the first groups to pick up the new "bluegrass" format).[3] They soon "found out that didn't pay off—we needed something of our own. So we started writing songs in 1947, 1948. I guess I wrote 20 or so banjo tunes, but Carter was a better writer than me."[2] When Columbia Records signed them as The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe left in protest and joined Decca. Later, Carter went back to sing for the "Father of Bluegrass", Bill Monroe.

Ralph Stanley gave his opinion on Bill Monroe's apparent change of heart: "He [Bill Monroe] knew Carter would make him a good singer. . . Bill Monroe loved our music and loved our singing."[2]

The Stanley Brothers joined King Records in the late '50s, a record company so eclectic that it included James Brown at the time. In fact, James Brown and his band were in the studio when the Stanley Brothers recorded "Finger Poppin' Time". "James and his band were poppin' their fingers on that" according to Ralph.[2] At King Records, they "went to a more 'Stanley style', the sound that people most know today."[2]

Ralph and Carter performed as The Stanley Brothers with their band, The Clinch Mountain Boys, from 1946 to 1966. Ralph kept the band name when he continued as a solo after Carter's death, from 1967 to the present.

Solo

After Carter died of complications of cirrhosis in 1966, after ailing for "a year or so",[2] Ralph faced a hard decision on whether to continue performing on his own. "I was worried, I didn't know if I could do it by myself. But boy, I got letters, 3,000 of 'em, and phone calls . . . I went to Syd Nathan at King and asked him if he wanted me to go on, and he said, 'Hell yes! You might be better than both of them.'"[4]

He decided to go it alone, eventually reviving The Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers, and Charlie Sizemore were among those with whom he played in the revived band. He encountered Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley arriving late to his own show: "They were about 16 or 17, and they were holding the crowd 'til we got there. . . They sounded just exactly like (the Stanley Brothers)."[5] Seeing their potential, he hired them "to give 'em a chance", though that meant a seven-member band.[2] Eventually, his son, Ralph Stanley II, took over as lead singer and rhythm guitarist for The Clinch Mountain Boys.[6]

Political career

Around 1970, he ran for Clerk of Court and Commissioner of Revenue in Dickenson County only to state this:
What happened is, somebody traded me off—they used my popularity and money to elect somebody else. I was done dirty. And I'm so proud that I was done dirty, because if I had been elected ... I woulda had a job to do ... maybe woulda finally quit. So that's one time I was done dirty and I want to thank them for it now.[5]

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Stanley's work was featured in the very popular 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which he sings the Appalachian dirge "O Death." The soundtrack's producer was T-Bone Burnett. Stanley said the following about working with Burnett:
T-Bone Burnett had several auditions for that song. He wanted it in the Dock Boggs style. So I got my banjo and learned it the way he did it. You see, I had recorded "O Death" three times, done it with Carter. So I went down with my banjo to Nashville and I said, "T-Bone, let me sing it the way I want to sing it," and I laid my banjo down and sung it a cappella. After two or three verses, he stopped me and said, "That's it."[5]
With that song, Stanley won a 2002 Grammy Award in the category of Best Male Country Vocal Performance. "That put the icing on the cake for me," he said. "It put me in a different category."[5]
Later life and death

Known in the world of bluegrass music by the popular title, "Dr. Ralph Stanley" (after being awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee in 1976), Stanley was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992 and in 2000, and became the first person to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in the third millennium.

He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast CD Christmas Time's A Comin’, performing "Christmas Time's A Comin'" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA; it was one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.

He was featured in the Josh Turner hit song "Me and God" released in 2006.

In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

On November 10, 2007, Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys performed at a rally for presidential candidate John Edwards in Des Moines, Iowa, just before the Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. Between renditions of "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Orange Blossom Special", Stanley told the crowd that he had cast his first vote for Harry S. Truman in 1948 and would cast his next for John Edwards in 2008.

Country singer Dwight Yoakam has stated that Ralph Stanley is one of his "musical heroes."[7]

Stanley's autobiography, Man of Constant Sorrow, coauthored with the music journalist Eddie Dean, was released by Gotham Books on October 15, 2009.[8] In 2012, Stanley was featured on several tracks of the soundtrack for Nick Cave's film Lawless, with music by Cave and Warren Ellis. His solo track "White Light/White Heat" is prominent in several scenes of the movie.

Stanley maintained an active touring schedule; appearances in recent years have included the 2012 Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville, TN, and the 2013 FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, MA. In June 2013, he announced a farewell tour,[9][10] scheduled to begin in Rocky Mount, NC, on October 18 and extending to December 2014. However, upon notification of being elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (awarded October 11, 2014) a statement on his own website appeared, saying that he would not be retiring.[11]

On June 23, 2016, Stanley died as a result of skin cancer.[12]

SOURCE: Wikipedia
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