a snippet of Bootsy
William Earl “Bootsy” Collins was born on October 26, 1951 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is an American musician and singer-songwriter. Elevating 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’ 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. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned during your time playing with James Brown?
Discipline. But he also taught me about The One. I started playing guitar to be like my brother Catfish, who was eight years older than me, but never really learned how to play bass. Then when we got with James Brown he was like: “I love all that stuff you’re doing, but you’ve gotta give me The One.” I didn’t know what The One was, so he explained it to me: “Always hit The One, the downbeat. In between that you can play whatever you wanna play.” So that’s what I started doing. And once he started liking it, I felt I was on the right track.
After departing the JB’s, in 1972, Bootsy joined George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic. Collins and Clinton soon established a lifelong personal and musical friendship. He co-wrote “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker” with Clinton and Jerome Brailey and established himself so effectively that Clinton urged him to form his own band. Bootsy’s Rubber Band emerged in 1976, a spirited ensemble that included Collins’ brother Phelps (“Catfish”), as well as fellow James Brown bandmembers Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, Joel Johnson, Gary Cooper, Rick Gardner, and Richard Griffiths.