Bernie Worrell R.I.P

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Dr. George Bernard “Bernie” Worrell, Jr.

(April 19, 1944 – June 24, 2016)

Bernie Worrell, composer and keyboardist, lost his fight with lung cancer on Friday. He was 72. Worrell was one of the original funk masters performing with the “Parliament/Funkadelic” and the “Talking Heads”. (for which I will always remember his frenzied playing style)

Worrell was classically trained. Taking up the piano at age 3, he later studied at the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory of Music.

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Parliament/Funkadelic

Among the many P-Funk jams he co-wrote, played on, or co-produced were “Flash Light,” “Atomic Dog,” “Aqua Boogie,” and “Red Hot Mama”.

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David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Bernie Worrell

David Byne of “The Talking Heads” remarked at a benefit concert for Worrell earlier this year – “He gives you the theology of funk. Bernie can take the music to a very cosmic place.”

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Worrell released several solo albums, including “All the Woo in the World” and “Funk of Ages”. Presented by Prince, Bernie Worrell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with other members of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997.

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”. (If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking out Stop Making Sense!)

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Talking Heads – “Stop Making Sense”

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

The following video is – “Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth”. It is a documentary film about Worrell’s life, music and impact.

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Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson – R.I.P.

Just celebrated God’s favor of another birthday and the end of my chemotherapy treatments to the funky sounds of the Brothers Johnson’s bass thumping soundtracks. What very special memories of college they evoke.

I was truly blessed to be able to share this birthday with some of my very special friends from “back in the day” at the leader and the best – The University of Michigan!

This is a repost of the memorial of Louis Johnson from 1 year ago today. R.I.H.

I just celebrated a milestone birthday this past Thursday, May 21st but, while I was basking in my special day the news came out that renowned funk bassist and one of the grandfathers of slap bass playing Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson had passed that very day. We shared a common birth year and his death served as a stark reminder that tomorrow is not promised. An incredible talent gone way too soon.

 

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Louis Johnson

 (April 13, 1955 – May 21, 2015)

When we think about birthdays it’s usually about the celebration of the years lived and those memories, moments and for me, in particular, special films and music. In the 70’s and 80’s Louis and his brother George played the soundtrack of my life. Songs like: “Get the Funk Out Ma Face”, and “Ain’t We Funkin Now” were always at the top of my playlist.

 

Louis Johnson

Louis’ innovative bass slapping technique

 

Louis and his George got their start playing for Quincy Jones who later went on to produce the brothers debut LP Look Out for #1 in 1976. Over the next five years, the Brothers Johnson racked up three Number One hits on the R&B charts: 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” their 1977 cover of singer-songwriter and soul musician Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23,”(featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown) and 1980’s smash “Stomp!”

Louis garnered the nickname “Thunder Thumbs” as a nod to his innovative bass slapping technique. His signature sound was from the Music Man StingRay bass which Leo Fender especially made for him to first use and promote, and form his slapping technique.

 

 

 

 

Louis Johnson brought the “funk” to Michael Jackson’s hits “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. He also appeared on “Off the Wall”,”Thriller and artists Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin tracks. The Brothers Johnson’s 1980 album Light Up the Night, featuring “This Had to Be” was co-written by Michael, featuring him on background vocals. The album rose to the top of the R&B charts.

Although the news of his passing saddens me, I’m grateful for the time we shared through his incredible musical performances. I honor his legacy and say – Thank you, Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson for bringing the funk! You will be missed.

 

In Memorial

louis johnson 3

Thanks, Louis!

 

 

Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson – R.I.P.

I just celebrated a milestone birthday this past Thursday, May 21st but, while I was basking in my special day the news came out that renowned funk bassist and one of the grandfathers of slap bass playing Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson had passed that very day. We shared a common birth year and his death served as a stark reminder that tomorrow is not promised. An incredible talent gone way too soon.

 

louis johnson 2

Louis Johnson

 (April 13, 1955 – May 21, 2015)

When we think about birthdays it’s usually about the celebration of the years lived and those memories, moments and for me, in particular, special films and music. In the 70’s and 80’s Louis and his brother George played the soundtrack of my life. Songs like: “Get the Funk Out Ma Face”, and “Ain’t We Funkin Now” were always at the top of my playlist.

 

Louis Johnson

Louis’ innovative bass slapping technique

 

Louis and his George got their start playing for Quincy Jones who later went on to produce the brothers debut LP Look Out for #1 in 1976. Over the next five years, the Brothers Johnson racked up three Number One hits on the R&B charts: 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” their 1977 cover of singer-songwriter and soul musician Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23,”(featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown) and 1980’s smash “Stomp!”

Louis garnered the nickname “Thunder Thumbs” as a nod to his innovative bass slapping technique. His signature sound was from the Music Man StingRay bass which Leo Fender especially made for him to first use and promote, and form his slapping technique.

 

 

 

 

Louis Johnson brought the “funk” to Michael Jackson’s hits “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. He also appeared on “Off the Wall”,”Thriller and artists Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin tracks. The Brothers Johnson’s 1980 album Light Up the Night, featuring “This Had to Be” was co-written by Michael, featuring him on background vocals. The album rose to the top of the R&B charts.

Although the news of his passing saddens me, I’m grateful for the time we shared through his incredible musical performances. I honor his legacy and say – Thank you, Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson for bringing the funk! You will be missed.

 

In Memorial

louis johnson 3

Thanks, Louis!