Calvin Simon, Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder, Dead at 79

Calvin Simon, a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic, died Thursday. He was 79 years old.

Former P-Funk bassist Bootsy Collins announced Simon’s death on Instagram. “We lost another original Member of Parliament / Funkadelic,” he wrote. “A friend, bandmate and a great classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former Member of Parliament / Funkadelic.” The cause of death was not immediately available.

Simon joined George Clinton’s doo-wop group, the Parliaments, in the late 1950s, along with singers Fuzzy Haskins and Grady Thomas. He continued to be a member of the group through his various permutations, from R&B to acid-rock to funk, until 1977, when he left the disputes over finances and management. During his tenure with P-Funk, he contributed to the Parliament classic Mothership connection Y Funkentelechy vs.placebo syndrome and Funkadelic’s Worm brain Y Cosmic slop. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with many other members of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997.

“Rest in peace with my brother P-Funk,” Clinton wrote on Facebook. “Fly, Calvin!”

Simon was born on May 22, 1942 in Beckley, West Virginia, where he sang in the church choir for weekly radio broadcasts. His family moved to New Jersey when he was 13, where he found work as a barber. He teamed up with fellow barbers Clinton and Grady Thomas and his clients, Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins, to form the Parliaments, which aspired to sound like Frankie Lymon and the Teens.

In her 2014 memoir, Clinton compared Simon’s voice to David Ruffin of the Temptations. The quintet subsequently moved to Detroit in the mid-1960s to be closer to the Motown scene. They finally got a hit with “(I Wanna) Testify” in 1967. Simon was recruited that year and served in Vietnam. “What means the most to me is how I have handled PTSD since my service in the Vietnam War,” he once said. “I was able to keep the genie in the bottle, so to speak, and I didn’t allow bad thoughts to break through and manifest into action.”

Parliaments changed its name to Funkadelic after a dispute with its label, and after regaining the rights to its name, they shortened it to Parliament. At this point, Parliament was more of a commercial R&B group, while Funkadelic made less polished underground records. However, both bands toured together with a replica of the “mothership” from 1976 to 1981.

In his 1997 Rock Hall induction speech, Simon first joked thanking “the Academy,” prompting laughter from the crowd. Then he got more serious. “I would like to thank all of our fans and teammates,” he said. “And I would also like to thank God for allowing us to receive this.”

Even years later, after dedicating himself to gospel music, he recognized his place in music as a pioneer. “I see a lot of things that people have done over the years,” he told the Tampa bay times in 2017. “We paved the way for Prince, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. In gospel, Kirk Franklin took one of our melodies for a track. We learned the hard lessons with record labels and people know better now. They know they need to own themselves. “

After leaving the group, Simon, Haskins and Thomas released an album, Connections and disconnections, under the name Funkadelic in 1981. The musicians also later used the name Original P for the 1998 album What dat shakin ‘ and 2001’s Original P Introducing Souljaz heading west. Finally, he turned his attention to gospel music and released his solo debut, Share the news, in 2004 on his own Simon Sayz label; the album peaked at number 21 on Billboards List of gospel albums, according to their website.

Around this time, he returned to his hometown of Beckley to help construct a new building for Sky Baptist Church, where it was renamed. While preparing for the album tour, she had trouble singing and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He underwent throat surgery and survived to release the albums. It’s not too late, which came out shortly after Calvin lost his wife Jennifer to cancer, and I think.

Regarding his gospel music, Simon maintained that it was no different in spirit from Parliament-Funkadelic. “There was such a positive message and vibe to Parliament-Funkadelic’s original music that it was conveyed in a fun way,” he said in a press release for I think. “True music, true arrangements, pure joy. I think long-term fans will re-associate with that side of music. New fans can experience my version of gospel music, which I call ‘Sanctified Funk’. It’s music without synthesizers and without autotuning. “

In 2017, he hoped to tour and spread the religious message of his new music. “I want to go around the country singing these songs, with this music, this message, this band,” he told the Tampa bay times. “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I hope someone along the way finds something in music and also leads them to Jesus. “

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