Keyboardist Bernie Worrell dies at 72
Los Angeles, June 25 (IANS) Keyboardist Bernie Worrell, songwriter and synthesizer who served as co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic and a key Talking Heads collaborator, died on Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 72.
Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, news of Worrell’s demise was announced via his Facebook page, reports variety.com.
Worell was the guest of honour at a benefit concert last April, with the likes of George Clinton, Questlove, David Byrne and Meryl Streep performing and paying tribute. In mid-June, his wife Judie Worrell announced that Worell’s health had taken a turn.
Born George Bernard Worrell in New Jersey, Worrell began playing piano at age three, and performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at age 10. He attended Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, and met up with fellow New Jersey native George Clinton while playing in bar bands.
He followed Clinton to Detroit, where Funkadelic rewrote the rules of black popular music several times over throughout the 1970s.
Worrell had appeared on several albums by musician Jack Bruce, including “A Question of Time”, “Cities of the Heart”, “Monkjack” and “More Jack than God”.
The keyboardist had also joined forces with bass legend Les Claypool, guitarist Buckethead and drummer Bryan Mantia to form the group Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains.
Last year, Worrell also appeared in the movie “Ricki and the Flash” as the keyboard player in actress Meryl Streep’s band.