Bootsy Collins Biography

William Collins, 26 October 1951, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. This exceptional showman was an integral part of the JBs, the backing group fashioned by James Brown to replace the Famous Flames. Between 1969 and 1971, the distinctive Collins bass playing propelled some of the era’s definitive funk anthems. Collins was later part of the large-scale defection in which several of Brown’s most valued musicians switched to George Clinton’s Parliament / Funkadelic organization. The bass player’s popularity inspired the formation of Bootsy’s Rubber Band, a spin-off group featuring such Brown/Clinton associates as Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and Bernie Worrell. Collins’ outrageous image - part space cadet, part psychedelic warlord - emphasized a mix of funk and fun exemplified by ‘Psychoticbumpschool’ (1976), ‘The Pinocchio Theory’ (1977) and ‘Bootzilla’ (1978), a US R&B chart-topper.

The internal problems plaguing the Clinton camp during the early 80s temporarily hampered Collins’ career, although the subsequent comeback album, What’s Bootsy Doin’?, revealed some of his erstwhile charm. Collins and the Bootzilla Orchestra were employed for the production of Malcolm McLaren’s 1989 album Waltz Darling and by the early 90s the Rubber Band had started touring again. Collins found plenty of work on hip-hop/rap projects, but his own releases have tended to be competent rather than inspired. However a return to a major label for 1997’s Fresh Outta P University produced his best work since his 70s peak. The guest-laden follow-up Play With Bootsy: A Tribute To The Funk appeared in Europe in 2002, but America had to wait another two years before the album was given a home release.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.