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Bootsy Collins is one of the all-time great funk and R&B bassists, besides being a consummate character. Born in Detroit, Collins formed the Pacesetters during the '60s, a unit that not only included vocalist Philippe Wynne (later of Spinners fame), but also George Clinton as a sideman. Collins and Clinton soon established a lifelong personal and musical friendship, and Collins and his comrades became part of the JB's, James Brown's backing band, from 1969 to 1971.
Collins' inspired, clever progressions and patterns were a vital part of such records as "Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine." The group became the House Guests after departing the JB's, until Collins joined Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic empire in 1971. He co-wrote "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" with Clinton and Jerome Brailey and established himself so effectively that Clinton urged him to form his own band. Bootsy's Rubber Band emerged in 1976, a spirited ensemble that included Collins' brother Phelps ("Catfish"), as well as fellow James Brown bandmembers Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, Joel Johnson, Gary Cooper, Rick Gardner, and Richard Griffiths. (Collins also featured his alter egos "Bootzilla" and "Casper, the Friendly Ghost" as part of the stage act.)
Their debut LP, Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band, and their second release, Ahh...The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! equalled anything issued during Clinton's peak period for idiomatic diversity, clever, bizarre humor, and outrageous lyrics. Both Ahh... and the third LP, Bootsy? Player of the Year, earned gold records and made it into the Top 20 on the pop charts. The single "Bootzilla" was his lone R&B chart topper in 1978, although "The Pinocchio Theory" also made the Top Ten.
Collins recorded as both a solo artist and with the Rubber Band in the '80s. He also did some special projects, such as a 1984 collaboration with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads -- using the name Bonzo Goes to Washington -- that produced "5 Minutes (C-C-C-Club Mix)," featuring Ronald Reagan declaring nuclear war on the Soviet Union over a skittering rhythm track. In 1988, he returned on Columbia with the appropriately named What's Bootsy Doin'? In 1989, Bootsy was a member of the Bootzilla Orchestra on Malcolm McLaren's album Waltz Dancing. One year later, he became a featured guitarist and bassist with the dance music trio Deee-Lite, signed with 4th and Broadway, and also toured England with a group co-led by Parker and Wesley.
Bootsy's New Rubber Band released Blasters of the Universe in 1994, and Fresh Outta 'P' University followed four years later. Numerous Collins live shows and reissues appeared as the 21st century opened, and in 2006, the bassist actually released a Christmas album, Christmas Is 4 Ever, on Shout Records. In 2011, a conceptual album, The Funk Capital of the World, landed, featuring everyone from Ice Cube to Samuel L. Jackson on the guest list.
William Earl "Bootsy" Collins (born October 26, 1951) is an American musician and singer-songwriter.
Rising to prominence with James Brown in the early 1970s, and later with Parliament-Funkadelic, Collins's driving bass guitar and humorous vocals established him as one of the leading names in funk. Collins is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.Planer, Lindsay. "Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band – Bootsy's Rubber Band". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-07-06.
ContentsBiography1.1 1960s–1970s1.2 1980s–1990s1.3 2000s
With his elder brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins, Frankie "Kash" Waddy and Philippé Wynne, Collins formed a funk band called The Pacemakers in 1968.
In March 1970, after most of the members of James Brown's band quit over a pay dispute, The Pacemakers were hired as Brown's backing band and they became known as The J.B.'s. (They are often referred to as the "original" J.B.'s to distinguish them from later line-ups that went by the same name.) Although they worked for Brown for only 11 months, the original J.B.'s played on some of Brown's most intense funk recordings, including "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine", "Bewildered (1970)", "Super Bad", "Soul Power", "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing", and two instrumental singles, the much-sampled "The Grunt" and "These Are the J.B.'s".
After parting ways with James Brown, Collins returned to Cincinnati and formed House Guests with his brother Phelps Collins, Rufus Allen, Clayton "Chicken" Gunnels, Frankie Waddy, Ronnie Greenaway and Robert McCullough. The House Guests released "What So Never the Dance" and another single on the House Guests label, as well as a third as The Sound of Vision on the House Guests label.
Next Collins moved to Detroit, after Philippé Wynne suggested joining The Spinners, for whom Wynne had been singing. However, following the advice of singer and future Parliament member Mallia Franklin, Collins had another choice. Franklin there introduced both Collins brothers to George Clinton, and 1972 saw both of the Collins brothers, along with Waddy, join Funkadelic. Collins played bass on most of Funkadelic and all of Parliament's albums (with the exception of Osmium) through the early 1980s, garnering several songwriting credits as well.
In 1976 Collins, Catfish, Waddy, Joel Johnson, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, Robert Johnson and The Horny Horns formed Bootsy's Rubber Band, a separate touring unit of Clinton's P-Funk collective. The group recorded five albums together, the first three of which are often considered to be among the quintessential P-Funk recordings. The group's 1978 album Bootsy? Player of the Year reached the top of the R&B album chart and spawned the #1 R&B single "Bootzilla".
Like Clinton, Collins took on several alter egos, from Casper the Funky Ghost to Bootzilla, "the world's only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll", all as parts of the evolving character of an alien rock star who grew gradually more bizarre as time went on (see P-Funk mythology). He also adopted his trademark "space bass" around this time.
Collins released two 1980 albums, his first "solo" album "Ultra-Wave", and Sweat Band, on George Clinton's Uncle Jam label with a group billed as Bootsy's Sweat Band. He also was credited for producing the debut of P-Funk spinoffs Zapp and Roger.
In 1984, he collaborated with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads to produce "Five Minutes", a dance record sampled and edited from Ronald Reagan's infamous "Five Minutes" speech. The record was credited to "Bonzo goes to Washington" (also referenced in the 1985 Ramones song "Bonzo goes to Bitburg", derived from Reagan's starring role as Professor Peter Boyd in the 1951 comedy film Bedtime for Bonzo).
After a nearly five-year hiatus, he had a comeback in 1988 (with some help from producer Bill Laswell). What's Bootsy Doin'? flaunted a new sound that foreshadowed the 1990s, such as the dance floor smash "Party on Plastic". Laswell introduced Collins to Herbie Hancock, resulting in Perfect Machine. The techno-funk they recorded featured turnables for scratch appeal, and the smoothly-stylized vocals of Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner of chart-topping Ohio Players.
In 1990, Collins collaborated with Deee-Lite on their massive hit "Groove Is in the Heart" where he contributed additional vocals. Although he also appeared in the music video playing the bass, the bassline in the song is actually a sample of a Herbie Hancock song called "Bring Down the Birds". Bootsy's Rubber Band became the de facto backing musicians for Deee-Lite during a world tour. The Rubber Band also recorded the EP "Jungle Bass", their first recording in 11 years.
In 1992, he joined with guitarist Stevie Salas and drummer Buddy Miles to form the funk-metal fusion group Hardware. The trio released one album, Third Eye Open, before disbanding.
Collins collaborated with Del McCoury, Doc Watson and Mac Wiseman to form the GrooveGrass Boyz. They produced a fusion of bluegrass and funk.
In 1994, he contributed to the Soup Dragons' last album, Hydroponic.
Bootsy's New Rubber Band formed this year, releasing Blasters of the Universe.
In 1995, Collins played in the remake of Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9," for Axiom Funk, a Funkadelic-like one-off supergroup produced by Bill Laswell and featuring (Funkadelic members) George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, (the guitar of the late) Eddie Hazel, Gary Shider and Bill Laswell. The group released only one album (Funkcronomicon), and the song also appeared in the soundtrack of the movie Stealing Beauty.
Bootsy's New Rubber Band put forth the live release "Keepin' dah Funk Alive 4-1995", recorded over two nights in Tokyo.
In 1996, Collins collaborated on George Clinton's album The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership.
In 2000, Collins served as "Heineken's Amsterjam 2005" curator and master of ceremonies on Randall's Island, New York, and appeared with Madonna, Iggy Pop, Little Richard, and The Roots' Questlove, in an American TV commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone.
Collins has collaborated extensively with Bill Laswell and made appearances on two Fatboy Slim records Illuminati, as well as reading a poem at the end of FatBoy Slims's release in the LateNightTales DJ mix series. Collins provided "vocal spice" on the TobyMac album Welcome to Diverse City. He also appears on Nicole C. Mullens' latest album, Everyday People. He has also worked with the Lo-Fidelity Allstars on the album Don't be Afraid of Love, with Praxis, and with Buckethead on several occasions, for example on Buckethead's first album, Bucketheadland. Collins was featured in the 2002 film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. In 2004 he appeared on Snoop Dogg's Rhythm & Gangsta album and on the cover of "The Joker" on the Fatboy Slim album Palookaville.
He also performed a cover of the "Power of Soul" on the 2004 tribute album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix'.
Since then, Collins has also frequently collaborated with fellow bassist Victor Wooten.
In October 2005, Collins co-wrote a song celebrating the resurgence of his hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League called "Fear Da Tiger" which features "raps" written and performed by several Bengals players, including defensive end Duane Clemons, offensive tackle Stacy Andrews, and center Ben Wilkerson. An edited version of the song was made into a music video which features cameos by many other Bengals players. Collins appeared with Little Richard, Bernie Worrell, and other notable musicians as the band playing with Hank Williams, Jr. for the Monday Night Football opening during for the 2006 season. Collins was the only all star to return with Williams for the 2007 season.
He also sings "Marshal Law", the theme song of the Cincinnati Marshals indoor football team. He debuted the song on April 29, at half time of a Marshals home game against the West Palm Beach Phantoms.
In 2006, ABC Entertainment / A Charly Films Release released a DVD/CD from Collins and the New Rubber Band's concert at the 1998 North Sea Jazz Festival. Soon after the release, Collins split from long-time friend and guitarist Odhran "The Bodhran" Rameriz, citing creative differences as the reason.
Later that same year, Collins released the holiday album Christmas Is 4 Ever. This represents the first Christmas-themed album made by any member of the P-Funk musical collective. The album features re-workings of Christmas standards as well as original compositions.
Also in 2006, Collins recorded music for the animated television series Loonatics Unleashed. Collins also voiced the character Bootes Belinda in the episode The Music Villain.
In April 2007, Collins announced plans to begin a restaurant/club with Cincinnati area restaurateur Jeff Ruby called "Bootsy's." The venue operated 2008–2010 before closing. It featured live musical acts, a museum dedicated to Collins' musical career and Spanish, Central and South American cuisine.
In June 2007, Collins, along with Phelps Collins, Clyde Stubblefield, John "Jabo" Starks, and Bernie Worrell, participated in the recording of the soundtrack for the movie Superbad. In December of that year they (sans Worrell) went on to perform the first tribute concert remembering James Brown.
In July 2007, Collins also told Billboard magazine that he was working on a project by the name of Science Faxtion and an album called Living on Another Frequency in which he serves as bassist and co-producer along with his lead vocalist Greg Hampton. The band also features guitarist Buckethead and drummer Brain. The album was released in November 2008.
Collins promoted Rock the Vote for its 2008 campaign together with Buckethead.
Collins produced Junkyard Waltz by funk band Freekbass from Ohio, which was released in October 2008.
He has been mentioned in the song "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club in the line "Clinton's musicians such as Bootsy Collins raise expectation to a new intention", while "Got more bass than Bootsy Collins" is a line in the song "Rumble in the Jungle" by the Fugees. His influence in popular culture is seen in that he has been referenced by a number of television series. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Sooooooul Train", Geoffrey sneaks into the Soul Train tapings posing as Collins, while in The Mighty Boosh episode "The Legend of Old Gregg" an alien creature named 'The Funk' lands on Collins' house, giving him his ability to play the bass guitar "like some kinda delirious funky priest", as well as the ability to see around corners. His song I'd Rather Be With You, from the album Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band was featured in the movie Baby Boy and on January 26, 2007, Collins gave the commencement address at the graduation ceremony at The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, who cited Collins as one of his primary influences, appeared in unmistakably Collins style clothing in the video for RHCP's "Dani California", and Collins' "What's a Telephone Bill?" was sampled for 2Pac's "Str8 Ballin'" track off the THUG LIFE album.
In 2009, Collins collaborated with Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek on the track "Internet Connection".
In October 2010, he was awarded a Bass Player Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award at the Key Club in Los Angeles.
In March 2011, Collins and his wife visited Franklin L. Williams M.S #7's Little Kids Rock program, donated a bass guitar, gave the children a bass lesson, and rapped with them while they played the blues. He is now an honorary board member of the organization.
On April 15, 2011, he appeared on Later... with Jools Holland, performing a memorable snippet of funk with Jools.
In June 2011, Collins played the 10th Annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
In the fall of 2011, Collins began being featured in a TV commercial for Old Navy, in which he is making "boots", made by boots, made by Bootsy to be sold at Old Navy.
Collins portrayed a radio DJ in the 2013 video game, Grand Theft Auto V, in which several of his own songs were featured."Soup Dragons". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved 2011-07-06. Misty Thomas (October 4, 2004). "Fatboy Slim – Album: Palookaville". JIVE Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-21. Epstein, Daniel Robert (October 10, 2006). "Bootsy Collins interview". SuicideGirls. Retrieved 2007-03-03. "Collins Looks To Future with Science Faction". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2011-07-06. "Bootzilla Productions". Bootsycollins.com. Retrieved 2011-07-06.  "Reflection Eternal – Internet Connection 2009 NEW!!!". YouTube. February 25, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-06. Bootsy Collins. Little Kids Rock. Retrieved on 2014-04-25. The best part of GTA V will be the radio, again. The Globe and Mail (September 13, 2013). Retrieved on 2014-04-25.
His original "Space Bass" and its replacement (before recovery from theft) was made in Warren, Michigan by Larry Pless of Gus Zoppi's music store. The first Space Bass had a mahogany body and maple neck, white finish, and mirror pick guard. This is the Space Bass on the cover of 1976 album Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band.
Collins' current signature instrument is a custom-built star-shaped bass guitar he calls the "Space Bass", built for him by Manuel "Manny" Salvador of GuitarCraft in 1998. In 2006 Collins made an agreement with Traben to make a signature Collins model bass called the "Bootzilla". During the 2010 NAMM Show, Collins' new signature bass guitar was released by Warwick, a customized Infinity Bass called "Bootsy Collins Black Star Signature Bass" or "Bootsy Collins Orange Star Signature Bass", depending on the color of the stars on it.The Creation of the Space Bass by Larry Pless
Bootsy Collins' Funk University
In July 2010, Collins, in partnership with former child actor Cory Danziger, launched Funk University ("Funk U"), an online-only bass guitar school in which he also serves as curator and lead professor. Funk University offers an intense curriculum tailored for intermediate to advanced bass players as well as anyone interested in a deeper understanding of funk. The curriculum is based on bass theory, history of funk, and Collins' own musical history given by Collins himself, augmented by lessons and exercises in bass and rhythm from guest bassist professors such as Les Claypool, Meshelle Ndegeocello, John B (Williams) and Victor Wooten. Enrolled students gain access to the virtual campus which, in addition to the multimedia lectures, includes a comprehensive subject library containing audio and multimedia music files, tablatures, and articles. Students participate in interactive questionnaires, polls, competitions (including track submissions), and are subjected to regular reviews by faculty members, who have designated "office hours" during which students can ask questions. Students and faculty can post or reply in the university's online forum (the Cafeteria). Eventually, the curriculum will be expanded to include other instruments.O'Neal, Sean. "Bootsy Collins establishes first-ever Funk University, declares himself "Professor Bootsy" | Music | Newswire". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-07-06. "Bootsy Collins Funk University – Online Bass Guitar School". Thefunkuniversity.com. July 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-06. Braiker, Brian (May 24, 2010). "Bootsy Collins Launching Funk University – ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2011-07-06.