June 17, 2014
BERNIE WORRELL CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC
At age 70, original Parliament/Funkadelic and Talking Heads funkmaster is as prolific as ever.
(NEW JERSEY) Just try keeping up with Bernie Worrell. The child prodigy-turned-music legend turned 70 years old this month and he’s still jammin’.
In just one year, Bernie released three albums. In February, he dropped his first solo piano platter, Elevation (The Upper Air) via the M.O.D. Technologies label. Melodestra (Gotta Groove Records), a 12” vinyl EP of songs peformed on the melodica, a hybrid of a wind instrument and keyboard. The album includes two remixes by John McEntire of indie rock bands Tortoise and The Sea and Cake. And, in addition to touring with his hot new group the Bernie Worrell Orchestra, the maestro also tracked their second album, Prequel. That’s more work than most younger men can muster, let alone one who has been playing, producing and world-touring for most of his seven decades.
But that ain’t all. Bernie Worrell also composed the score for the Brazilian film Daniel Aragao’s “I Swear I’ll Leave This Town.” He played on the upcoming album by the one and only Nona Hendryx. The “Wizard of WOO” also took the BWO on a meaty spring tour of the eastern and southern U.S., which included an appearance at Moogfest in North Carolina – where Bernie played with the BWO. Oh, and a special late-night gig in at the NOLA Jazz Fest as part Wild Fiya, a jam/supergroup manned by Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Blackbyrd McKnight (The Headhunters, Parliament/Funkadelic), Corey Glover (Living Colour), Norwood Fisher (Fishbone), Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), Eric McFadden (P-Funk), and Mike Dillon (Garage A Trois).
While you catch your breath after reading all that, we’d like to point out that the Wizard is going back on tour to promote all those records. And then he’ll make more.
About Bernie Worrell
As the architect of Parliament Funkadelic’s iconic intergalactic, synth-drenched sound, Bernie Worrell is a keyboardist and a master of production and songwriting. His work with P-Funk earned him the nickname “The Wizard of WOO” as well as a place, along with the original Parliament/Funkadelic, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With the Talking Heads, Worrell appeared on the landmark album Speaking in Tongues and in the Jonathan Demme concert film Stop Making Sense. But these are merely Worrell’s two most recognizable credits in his six-decade career. His discography also boasts nine solo albums – including Elevation, his first solo piano collection, released in February. Worrell is also a highly-sought session player and collaborator. Among his numerous side projects are Method of Defiance (with Bill Laswell), Black Jack Johnson (with Mos Def) and Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains, a supergroup featuring Les Claypool and Brain from Primus and enigmatic guitarist Buckethead.
Worrell’s massive musical influence is documented in the 2004 documentary Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth. In the film, David Byrne credits Worrell with injecting fun into Talking Heads’ music and performances. Worrell’s influence continues to permeate modern music with the likes of Dr. Dre and The Coup sampling his work.