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Bernie Worrell

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Raised in Plainfield, NJ, Bernie Worrell was a classically trained pianist at three years old. Throughout his childhood he played with symphonies and orchestras, and even wrote his own concerto at the age of eight. Slowly, he listened to the radio and discovered sounds other than classical, and when he went to college, he played with a number of bar bands, including the Tavares (who were known as Chubby & the Turnpikes back then). It was also around this time that Worrell met George Clinton, who was the vocalist for a Motown-influenced group called the Parliaments. The Parliaments soon split up and moved to Detroit, where Clinton re-formed them into a new group, called Parliament. Clinton then formed another side band, called Funkadelic, several of whose members had been in Parliament but were now performing under the new name due to contractual glitches. Worrell joined Funkadelic in 1970, beginning with their album Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow. He was an essential part of the P-Funk mob and continued to play with them right up until the early '80s. He then joined the Talking Heads as a session man and went on tour with them throughout the '80s, basically working with David Byrne and the band right up to their split in early 1992. Besides his solo career, Worrell continues to work with members of the P-Funk, including Bootsy Collins. His work on such songs as "Flashlight," "(Not Just) Knee Deep," and "Cosmic Slop" influenced not only other R&B/soul artists but also many rap groups, who continue to sample his work in their own songs. ~ John Book

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19 April 1944 in Long Beach, NJ

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s