William Earl "Bootsy" Collins
(born October 26, 1951 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) 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.1960s–1970sWith 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, Bootsy 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 Bootsy 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. Bootsy 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 Bootsy, 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, Bootsy 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.
Bootsy 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, Bootsy 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, Bootsy had a comeback in 1988 (with some help from producer Bill Laswell). What's Bootsy Doin'? flaunted a new sound that foreshadowed the 90's, such as the dancefloor smash "Party On Plastic". Laswell introduced Bootsy 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, Bootsy 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 defacto 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, Bootsy 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.Bootsy collaborated with bluegrass legends Del McCoury, Doc Watson and Mac Wiseman to form the GrooveGrass Boyz. They produced a fusion of bluegrass and funk.In 1994, Bootsy contributed extensively to the Soup Dragons' last album, Hydroponic
.Bootsy's New Rubber Band formed this year, releasing "Blasters of the Universe".In 1995, Bootsy 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, 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, Bootsy collaborated on George Clinton's album "The Awesome Power Of A Fully Operational Mothership".
In 2000 Bootsy 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.Bootsy 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. Bootsy 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
. Bootsy 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, Bootsy 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. It has garnered tremendous local airplay and is viewable on Bengals.com
Additionally, Cincinnati Bell is offering "Fear Da Tiger" as a free ringtone for its wireless customers in both polyphonic and MP3 formats. 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 halftime of a Marshals home game against the West Palm Beach Phantoms.In 2006, ABC Entertainment / A Charly Films Release released a DVD/CD from Bootsy 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, Bootsy released the holiday album "Christmas Is 4 Ever". This represents the very 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, Bootsy 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 Bootsy's musical career and Spanish, Central and South American cuisine.In June 2007, Bootsy 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, Bootsy 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.Bootsy produced Junkyard Waltz
by funk band Freekbass from Ohio, which was released in October 2008.Bootsy 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 Bootsy Collins, while in The Mighty Boosh
episode "The Legend of Old Gregg" an alien creature named 'The Funk' lands on Bootsy's 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, Bootsy, a native of Cincinnati, 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 Bootsy-esque clothing in the video for RHCP's "Dani California", and Bootsy's "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 Bootsy was awarded a Bass Player
Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award at the Key Club in Los Angeles.In March 2011 Bootsy and his wife visited Franklin L. Williams M.S #7's Little Kids Rock program, donated a bass guitar, gave the kids a bass lesson, and rapped with them while they played the blues. He is now an honorary board member of the organization.On 15 April 2011, Bootsy appeared on Later... with Jools Holland
, performing a memorable snippet of funk with Jools.In June 2011 Bootsy played the 10th Annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN.In the Fall of 2011, Bootsy 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.Bootsy portrays a radio DJ in the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V, in which several of his own songs are featured.
Bootsy's 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 Bootsy 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.
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.