Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Bernie Worrell’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of him with us in the comments below!
Born: April 19, 1944
Died: June 24, 2016
Biography (via AllMusic): Raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, 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 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 continued to work with members of 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 extensively sampled his work in their own songs. Bernie Worrell died of lung cancer at his home in Everson, Washington in June 2016 at 72 years of age.