Calvin Simon, Rock Hall Member With P-Funk, Dies

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Calvin Simon (Photo via his Facebook page)

Calvin Simon, a member of the funk music collective, Parliament-Funkadelic, whose long list of rotating musician members has been headed by George Clinton, died yesterday (January 6, 2022) at 79. The singer, who performed on such P-Funk songs as 1975’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” is one of 16 members of the combined bands to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1997. Clinton’s official Facebook page wrote a farewell to his longtime bandmate. “Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon. Longtime Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist. Fly on Calvin!”

Simon was born on May 22, 1942, in Beckley, West Virginia. In the late 1950s, he was a founding member of a New Jersey-based doo-wop quintet, the Parliaments, organized in the back room of a Newark barber shop, and reportedly named for the brand of cigarettes. The group, led by Clinton, had little success with several early releases. In 1967, they released “(I Wanna) Testify,” though Clinton was actually the only member to participate on the Detroit recording session. The song reached #3 on the R&B chart and #20 on the Hot 100. Soon after recording an album, Simon was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the 9th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War.

After a contract dispute over the group’s name, Clinton changed it to Funkadelic, and reimagined them as a funk-rock band, with the five original singers and five musicians. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1970 on the Westbound label, features Simon’s prominent vocals on such tracks as “I’ll Bet You” and “Qualify and Satisfy.”

At around the same time, Clinton settled his dispute and reintroduced the original band, as simply Parliament. Recording and touring seemingly simultaneously, both groups achieved success. Other prominent members in the expanding ensemble were bass guitarist William “Bootsy” Collins and keyboard wiz Bernie Worrell.

1976’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” became Parliament’s first million-selling single, reaching #5 on the Hot Soul singles chart and #15 on the Hot 100.

Simon left the collective in 1977 because of financial disputes with Clinton, departing prior to the release of Funkadelic’s most successful album, One Nation Under a Groove. After a hiatus, Simon began performing gospel music. “The thing that means the most to me is how I handled the PTSD from my service in the Vietnam War,” he said. “I was able to keep the genie in the bottle, so to speak, and did not allow the evil thoughts to break through and manifest into actions. Instead, I found my faith and relied on the higher power to see me through. As for changes, I wouldn’t and can’t change anything. My experiences, both good and bad, have gotten me to this point in my life, both spiritually and in my music.”

Parliament-Funkadelic have the distinction of being amongst the most sampled groups ever thanks to such psychedelic experiments and dance floor fillers with such colorful names as “Maggot Brain,” “Up For the Down Stroke,” “Chocolate City,” “Standing On the Verge of Getting It On,” “P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up),” “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” “Undisco Kidd,” “Do That Stuff” and “Dr. Funkenstein.”

Watch the group perform “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” at their Rock Hall induction

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  1. Marty Stix Ellis, From Cleveland Ohio
    #1 Marty Stix Ellis, From Cleveland Ohio 8 January, 2022, 17:28

    Outstanding simply outstanding I’ve been a parliament fan all my life what can I say

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