As part of Parliament-Funkadelic, Worrell’s indelible keyboard skills
– including his pioneering use of Minimoog on songs like Parliament’s
“Flash Light” – were a major influence on R&B in the ‘80s, hip-hop,
new wave and early electronic music.
Worrell was also a regular
contributor to Talking Heads in the '80s, appearing on several of their
albums and featuring in the classic documentary Stop Making Sense.
Thirty-one years after that film, Worrell reunited with director
Jonathan Demme to play a keyboard player in Meryl Streep’s band in Ricki and the Flash.
in Long Branch, New Jersey, Worrell was a piano prodigy who eventually
linked up with forward-thinking funk mastermind George Clinton. As part
of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective, Worrell’s synthesized keyboard
sounds were an essential part of the P-Funk sound that set the template
Starting with Funkadelic’s self-titled 1970 debut, Worrell
became an essential part of Funkadelic’s subsequent 10 albums. By 1974,
he had joined sister band Parliament during the party funk band’s
mid-to-late-1970s heyday, helping craft mammoth staples of the genre
such as “Up For the Down Stroke,” “Dr. Funkenstein,” “Chocolate City,”
“P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” and “Mothership Connection (Star
His wobbly bass line on “Flash Light” from 1977’s Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome
– one of the funkiest ever recorded – was crafted not by longtime
bassist Bootsy Collins, but by Worrell running three Minimoog
Alongside Clinton and Collins, Worrell
helped define the sound of that decade by co-writing many of the band’s
bombastic hits, and eventually their work would underline the G-Funk era
of hip-hop ushered in by Dr. Dre in the early 1990s.
In later years, he
released several funk-inspired solo albums and contributed to projects
from Ginger Baker, Mos Def and more. His most recent work with the P-Funk collective was on Funkadelic’s 2014 reunion album First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate.
1997, Worrell was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
alongside Clinton, Collins and 13 other members of
Parliament-Funkadelic; the late great Prince was on hand to give the
induction speech. [Read More]