As this year progresses, we continue to lose the great ones at an alarming rate. But not just the visible ones. There are also greats that contributed so much to the advancement and evolution of Rock and Roll, but do not get as much visibility as people David Bowie, or, in this case, as much as George Clinton (or Bootsy Collins) of Parliament/Funkadelic, or even David Byrne of Talking Heads. But in this case, Bernie Worrell contributed as much to their music as any of the others had.
Bernie spent most of his musical life with Parliament/Funkadelic releasing well over 25 albums between the two bands. His keys lent the bands a signature sound that complemented the funk in all the rest of their instruments. He also contributed and helped to shape the evolutionary sound of Talking Heads on one studio album, Speaking In Tongues. Another significant contribution was heard on the expanded tour that Stop Making Sense was filmed from. But his involvement extended to many others including Mos Def, Fred Schneider (B-52s), even working with Les Claypool (Primus), Jack Bruce (Cream), and Gov’t Mule.
But he also did a fair share of solo work as well. He has released more than ten solo efforts since his 1978 debut, All The Woo In the World. It’s easy to say that Bernie Worrell was a busy man in the enterprise of Rock and Roll.
In January, Bernie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Of course, we all know what an insidious disease cancer is in whatever form it takes shape. Nevertheless, Bernie Worrell fought a brave fight but succumbed to it on June 24 at the age of 74.
It goes without saying that while we’re glad we have a wealth of Bernie Worrell participation evident in well over 40 (or more) recorded sets, it is his presence that we will miss the most. We like to think that our heroes in music live forever. And although we know deep down that simply is not a possibility, we still mourn them a little harder because they touched parts of our souls and waking lives thhat many have no idea exists.
Thanks, Bernie, for the wonderful music you left us behind! Now go and add your great keys to the Great Band!
1944 – 2016