bernie-worrell

After battling stage-four lung cancer for months, Parliament-Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell has died. He was 72 years old. His family confirmed the legendary keyboardist’s passing on Facebook.

“AT 11:54, June 24, 2016, Bernie transitioned Home to The Great Spirit,” said the statement. “Rest in peace, my love — you definitely made the world a better place. Till we meet again, vaya con Dios.”

A noted child prodigy while growing up in New Jersey, Worrell’s multi-instrumentalist nature helped lace Parliament-Funkadelic with its signature sound as well as the advancement of funk, especially its usage of the Minimoog synthesizer. George Clinton was seen as the group’s figurative head, but it was Worrell’s creativity that became the frame for which Parliament-Funkadelic became one of the era’s defining groups. “Flash Light,” from 1978’s Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome is one of Worrell’s signature works with the synthesizer as his usage of the tool gave way to the song’s now legendary riff thanks to three connected Minimoog synthesizers.

After P-Funk’s demise in the early ’80s, Worrell became a key player for a number of acts including Talking Heads, Fela Kuti, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and others. He continued to perform up until his cancer diagnosis in January 2016.

“I wasn’t really interested in technology, but when I was in college, at the New England Conservatory in Boston, I used to listen to Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I loved the Tarkus album. Keith was the first guy I heard using the Moog. I liked the sound of that album and the things he was doing with the instrument,” Worrell told Music Radar in 2013. “I found out that it was a Moog synthesizer, and later on I purchased my own Minimoog – or George did. I started messing with the sounds. That’s all I really do: I turn the knobs until it does what I want.”

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