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Bernie Worrell R.I.P

yannis D

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So sad to see him go. :(


Bernie Worrell was definitely an influence on my playing in one of my favorite genres. No other funk keyboardist could weave lines the way he did. I remember spending hours back in the '70s learning all of his riffs in the Parliament and Funkadelic tunes we covered. He was a master.


RIP Bernie.





My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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Unfortunately, we saw this coming. I had a room mate in college who was a huge P-Funk fan, we were listening to "One Nation Under A Groove" back in the late seventies. Next he turns up in Talking Heads- I saw them at the Forrest Hills Tennis Stadium August '83. He would frequently show up at NAMM, at the Moog and DSI booths- I have video of him playing right next to where I was standing. RIP Dr. Woo....!
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I will always cherish you. Here are two to give you tribute:






Summer of 1975 I started in radio. This song was one of the first I got to play on the A.M. station at that time. (Be careful how you announce it . . . *LOL*).



Then in the eighties I went into doing music with my first *real* band and also doing comedy. This was one of my favorites of those days:






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As a teenager I listened to the "Stop Making Sense" soundtrack over and over again for those burning Clav and Synth solos that Bernie played. I had never heard anything like that before. I think at the time I assumed it was Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads as I was not really at that point familiar with his Parliment and P-Funk work. After seeing the movie I became a fan and started seeking out his classic funk albums. He will be missed.
Nord Stage 3 Compact, Korg Kronos 61, Casio PX-5S, Yamaha DXR 10 (2)), Neo Vent, Yamaha MG82cx mixer and too many stands to name.
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I met Bernie for the first time at Tipitina's in the '90s, when he had first started touring with the Woo Warriors. I managed to get backstage, and was totally geeking out about getting to meet one of my keyboard heroes. He was talking about the difficulties of touring with a band when not many people knew who you were. I said, "Well even if people don't know your name, they know your sound. I mean, when they hear those piano lines two octaves apart, and the strings with the diminished passing chords, and Clav with the offset triplets between the two hands..." and then I stopped because I realized he was giving me a disbelieving look like, "How the hell do you know about all that?" So I sheepishly said, "Oh, yeah, I play keys, and I've checked out your stuff pretty seriously." He said, "Oh. All right then," and nodded approvingly. I got the sense that he honestly didn't realize how influential he was that there were a lot of young players who had put serious time into dealing with his innovations.


The single thing of his that I've probably gotten the most mileage from is the Clav lick from this song not P-Funk or Talking Heads, but a fairly obscure cut from the Chairmen of the Board. I've incorporated this lick into more situations than I can count.



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Bernie Worrell was the architect of Funk KB playing who incorporated his classically trained sensibilties into the James Brown groove. Along with George Clinton, Bernie blazed a trail of music for generations of musicians to discover and mine for gold.


Bernie is one influence in my belief that KB players should be bandleaders. I'm thankful for his contribution to music as a composer and more specifically a complete KB player.


The KB chair in the heavenly band just got a whole lot funkier. RIP Mr. Worrell. :cool:



"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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One of things I looked forward to in a cover band is covering P Funk. One of the things I feared was covering P Funk. Bernie had a feel that is really hard for me to grasp. Like the string machine fills on Give Up The Funk. Some of those fills don't come in where I want to play them. Cerebrally the parts aren't hard but it kicks my ass.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne


"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt


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Wow, I'm coming late to this, I just heard the news today. I came straight here to see what folks are saying.


In my mind he single-handedly invented synth bass. Perhaps I give him more credit than he was due, but it sure seems that way to me.


I saw him at the Boom Boom Room in SF a few years back, and it was a hell of a funky show. He played a lot of Hammond, too.


Heaven's bandstand got a hell of an upgrade this year.




Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.


My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/


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I just remembered that one time whe I saw him, he had a Clav and a Minimoog, but he was getting both his string sounds and his organ sounds (!) out of some Casio or Yamaha arranger keyboard. I won't go so far as to say it sounded great, but he made it sound way better than I would have thought possible.
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Here's the obit my brother wrote for him the other day, based on his NEC association:




It is very short due to established protocol, but I especially enjoy seeing the facsimile of his student recital at NEC:




Wouldn't we all love to have been there to hear the Grandmaster of Funk pay tribute to good ol' Ludwig?


Worrell was one of my three biggest personal influences on synth, to be sure. Emerson was another, and Mothersbaugh the third. One is still standing...


EDIT: Links corrected. Sorry about that; Firefox crashed last night while I was editing, and I didn't re-check the post after re-booting.

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Wouldn't we all love to have been there to hear the Grandmaster of Funk pay tribute to gool ol' Ludwig?


Imagine ol' Ludwig looking down on him and smiling, happy to see how music has changed and continued to delight the ears of humanity thanks to talent like his.




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No way to verify but this organ is for sale locally in New jersey. I don't even know what brand it is but it certainly doesn't look like something Bernie would have owned.



C3/122, M102A, Vox V301H, Farfisa Compact, Gibson G101, GEM P, RMI 300A, Piano Bass, Pianet , Prophet 5 rev. 2, Pro-One, Matrix 12, OB8, Korg MS20, Jupiter 6, Juno 60, PX-5S, Nord Stage 3 Compact
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