Rock Hall member Calvin Simon with P-Funk dies

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Calvin Simon (Photo via his Facebook page)

Calvin Simon, member of the funk music collective, Parliament-Funkadelic, whose long list of rotating member musicians has been led by George Clinton, died yesterday (January 6, 2022) at the age of 79. The singer, who has 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. Facebook page wrote a farewell to his longtime companion. “Rest in peace to my brother P-Funk, Mr. Calvin Simon. Longtime Parliament-Funkadelic singer. 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, Parliaments, held in the backroom of a Newark barber shop, which would wear the name of the brand of cigarettes. The group, led by Clinton, has had little success with several first releases. In 1967, they released “(I Wanna) Testify”, although Clinton was actually the only member to participate in the Detroit recording session. The song reached No. 3 on the R&B chart and No. 20 on the Hot 100. Shortly after recording an album, Simon was drafted into the United States Army and served in the 9th Infantry Division for Vietnam War.

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

Around the same time, Clinton settled his dispute and reintroduced the original group, simply Parliament. By recording and touring seemingly simultaneously, both groups found success. Other prominent members of the expanding ensemble were bassist 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 due to financial disputes with Clinton, before the release of Funkadelic’s most successful album, A nation under a groove. After a break, Simon started playing gospel music. “What matters most to me is how I have handled PTSD since my service in the Vietnam War,” he said. “I was able to keep the genie in the bottle, so to speak, and I did not allow bad thoughts to break through and manifest into actions. Instead, I found my faith and leaned on the Higher Power to help me. As far as changes are concerned, I would not and cannot change anything. My experiences, both good and bad, have brought me to this point in my life, both spiritually and in my music.

Parliament-Funkadelic has the distinction of being among the most sampled bands of all time thanks to psychedelic experiences and dance floor fills with names as colorful as “Maggot Brain”, “Up For the Down Stroke”, “Chocolate City”, “Standing On the About to Get Started”, “P. Funk (wants to let off steam)”, “Abandon the funk (tear the roof off the sucker)”, “Mothership Connection (Star Child ) ”,“ Undisco Kidd ”,“ Do That Stuff ”and“ Dr. Funkenstein.

look the group performs “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” during their induction into Rock Hall

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