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funkateer bootsy collins retiring from the stage

January 7, 2019
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Close on the heels of Parliament-Funkadelic mastermind George Clinton’s musical farewell, comes news that one of his main funkateers, space-bassist extraordinaire William “Bootsy” Collins, is giving up touring. In a Facebook post dated January 2nd, Collins wrote that he’s abandoning live performance after 50 years because, “Doc said to much pressure on my Inner-Ear & Right Hand. Yeah, I had to make up my Mind so I did.” Bootsy added that he has also “decided to become a Coach for up & coming Musicians….2019 Sheriff Ping Ping Ping will continue to Funk from the Studio but Not Live,” and assured his followers that “This Year will be the Funkiest Year of them All.” So, not a complete good-bye then.

It’s no stretch to say that 67 years-young Collins is one of AFROPUNK’s spiritual guides. His career began as a teenager in Cincinnati, where Bootsy and guitar-playing older brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins led the hard-rocking R&B band, The Pacemakers, a group so good that when in March 1970 all of James Brown’s band quit on him, the Godfather of Soul simply hired The Pacemakers, renamed them the JB’s, and kept on reinventing music. (Among the historic bangers they recorded together were, “Sex Machine,” “Talkin’ Loud and Saying Nothing” and The JB’s “The Grunt,” an early hip-hop classic, sampled on tracks by Public Enemy, Wu-Tang, 2pac and on and on.) After leaving James Brown, Bootsy and Catfish went to Detroit to hook up with Clinton and take P-Funk onto the Mothership, while also christening Bootsy’s own Rubber Band. (Check a whiff of them playing live in 1976 below.)

Over the last three decades, Bootsy has performed and recorded with an overwhelmingly broad cast of characters — from pop stars such as Simply Red and all-time MCs like Snoop Dogg, to Downtown New York experimentalists and next-generation jam-bands — while never giving up the funk. In 1997, he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of Parliament-Funkadelic.

Collins’ commitment to continue as a mentor for young musicians has its seeds in his own career, growing up amongst Cincinnati’s incredible group of musicians who recorded for Brown’s King Records, all the way through Bootsy’s  2010 launch of Funk University, a short-lived online music school. Still residing in Cincinnati, Bootsy has remained an inspiration for young artists there. Upon Collins’ announcement, local player, Freekbass Sherman told Cincinnati’s WKRC that Bootsy “inspired me so much and took me under his wing and made me part of the funk family when I was right out of high school.” Think of Bootsy’s future as that of a musical Obi-Wan, spreading the universal message he picked up on the Mothership: “May the funk be with you.”