Bootsy Collins Brings The Funk

Legendary funk bassist visits the GRAMMY Museum
  • Photo: Rebecca Sapp/
    Bootsy Collins
  • Photo: Rebecca Sapp/
    Bootsy Collins
June 27, 2011 -- 3:12 pm PDT

GRAMMY-winning musician Bootsy Collins was the featured guest for an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's An Evening With series on May 3. Before an intimate audience of 200, Collins discussed his musical influences, early session work with King Records, being introduced to James Brown, his first guitar, and his recent album, The Funk Capital Of The World, among other topics. Collins also took questions from the audience and gave a bass demonstration.

"I wanted to do something different. I wanted to play the [bass] line but I wanted to do a little improvising," said Collins regarding his bass line on Brown's hit "Soul Power." "That kind of groove is so hypnotic and you have to kind of move when you hear [it]."

Born William Collins in Cincinnati in 1951, Collins became a staff musician as a teenager at locally based King Records. In 1969, along with his brother, guitarist Phelps "Catfish" Collins, he began a two-year stint in Brown's backup band, the J.B.'s. Collins then joined forces with funk legend George Clinton in 1971 in Parliament-Funkadelic, and became known for his flashy bass playing and adopting outrageous stage personalities such as the sci-fi-inspired "Bootzilla." Collins was featured on Parliament's 1976 album Mothership Connection, which hit No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and featured the Top 20 hit "Tear The Roof Off This Sucker (Give Up The Funk)," and Funkadelic's 1978 album One Nation Under A Groove, which ascended to No. 1 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart. As a solo artist Collins scored No. 1 R&B Albums with Ahh…The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! in 1977 and Bootsy? Player Of The Year in 1978.

As a session musician, Collins has collaborated with artists such as Deee-Lite, Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Keith Richards, Snoop Dogg, and Victor Wooten, among others. Considered one of funk's most influential bassists, Collins has influenced musicians such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea and Primus' Les Claypool. He won his lone GRAMMY to date for Best Short Form Music Video for "Weapon Of Choice" with Fatboy Slim in 2001. Released in April, The Funk Capital Of The World features special guests including Clinton, the late Catfish Collins, Sheila E., Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Reel To Reel: Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest (July 5), An Evening With Todd Rundgren (July 18) and Great Guitars: Gary Lucas (July 20).

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Click on the "GRAMMY Museum events" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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