Bootsy Collins

He may not be the Godfather, but Bootsy Collins can claim a prime place in funk’s engine room. First with James Brown, then with Parliament-Funkadelic, his were the basslines that united the funk nation. Later generations danced to them again, as Dr. Dre raided his cupboards for the sound of g-funk. In this lecture at the 2011 Red Bull Music Academy, he traces his steps from a Cincinnati childhood to The JB’s military discipline to the liberation of P-funk and explains why Jimi Hendrix was the inspiration for it all. Aah… the name is Bootsy, baby.

Hosted by Noz Audio Only Version Transcript:

RBMA

 Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you might have noticed we’re in the presence of a funk legend. Give a warm welcome to Mr Bootsy Collins.(applause)

And Bootsy’s prepared a video introduction to his life and legacy.

(video plays / applause)

So let’s start at the beginning, Cincinnati, Ohio. What drew you to music growing up there?

Bootsy Collins

 Well, my brother played guitar. He’s eight years older than I am, Catfish Collins. I was just a young long-haired sucker that looked up to his brother, didn’t have a father in the home. You know how young boys look up to their brothers and wanna be like them? I wanted to be like my brother. You didn’t get music like you get it today, it was kind of far and in between. First of all, we didn’t have a radio. You’d hear music coming from a club or the house of someone who could afford a radio or record player. So we just had to get music however we could get it or listen to it however we could hear it. Every now and then my brother would come and practice at the house and that’s where I witnessed music firsthand and how it affected people. I wanted to be like that, I wanted to be cool like that. Musicians were cool, especially the jazz players, they were really cool. They had such an air about them. Not only my brother, there was this guy called Wilbert Longmire. He was a jazz player out of Cincinnati, Ohio, he became really big. He was bigger than George Benson; George Benson took what he was doing and just blew it all the way up. But Wilbert was a local guy who could play like that but never stepped out. We’ve got a lot of those musicians, who are great at what they do but get distracted by the home life, different things, mouth, different things, they’d get a little distracted and they didn’t step out. So he didn’t step out and George Benson stepped out and just smashed. We were a local band that decided to step out and the way I got to be with my brother was I had to prove to him that I was worthy. 'Cause big brothers are just, "Ah no, you get out of here." I was young, I was nine, I started messing around with the guitar when I was nine-years-old, and I started sneaking my brother’s guitar when he was on his paper round. So while he was gone I’d get my brother’s guitar out the closet, but the deep thing unbeknownst to me was, he knew how he had his guitar packed. Any little move he’d know someone had been messing with his guitar. You don’t funk with nobody’s funk, I found that out later. So I was sneaking in there and he’d come back and, "You been messing with my guitar?" "No way, I know that’s taboo." So I would never mess with his guitar - that’s what I told him. Then one day he came back early and I was in there jamming like a mother, just jamming all by myself, I was hearing stuff in my ear, didn’t pay no attention to the door. And him and his band walked in while I was jamming and he didn’t even say nothing. He just had this look in his eyes and I knew it was over for me. Sure enough, he started choking me. (laughs) Thank god Momma came home right then, "Boy, what you doing?" She grabbed him off me. My mother saved me, that’s why I’m with y’all today. It was really wild, but that’s when I knew I gotta get me a guitar, I gotta get me something to play. Musicians at that time were really personal about their instrument. Nobody touched nobody else’s instrument. You don’t disrespect a person by walking in the room, seeing his axe there and going over and touching it, you didn’t do that, that was family, you don’t mess with that. So I learned that. But from there, I had to prove to my brother that I was worthy of playing with him, 'cause that was my dream. Not to play with any big star, I wanted to play with him, I wanted to please him. So that was my mission. I got one chance; you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s what I want to leave you with, your first impression is the one, you can’t count on nothing else. So I knew this early, and I knew whenever I showed up, I had to wear you out, I had to give it all. That one shot you get, getting with my brother to me was that one shot. So I did everything I could do to please him and show him I could do this. When I did that, the first night we played together, the club was about half the size of this. We played there, the place was packed, everybody was drunk, everybody was up in your face, breathing, but everybody was having a great time. I was killing them, because I was the youngster, the young mug on the stage and all the chicks… (screams). I’m like, "Yeah, I like this." So once my brother saw how much nerve I had and I didn’t care – I just wanted to play, it wasn’t about money, it was about nothing but playing. That’s all it was about to me. He saw that and from that day on I played with my brother Catfish.

RBMA

 What styles of music were you playing back then?

Bootsy Collins

 Anything we heard. There were a lot more instrumentals back then. I heard a guy, Lonnie Mack, I don’t know if you ever heard of this guy, Lonnie Mack played guitar and he was like a country-folk-western-funk mash combo. It was just funky, man. There was no singing, just him playing guitar, and the style of guitar he played, I just loved it. My brother loved it and we played all the Lonnie Mack-type records. Then we had to play all the top stuff on the radio. Later on we figured out how to play the stuff on the radio, but to us that wasn’t fun. What was fun was coming up with stuff we could play and watching people say, "What the hell was that?" And we got off on that and that lasted on through.

RBMA

 Now, you talk about how some artists get out and do the national circuit. What was the first step you guys took to becoming more than a just a local club thing?

Bootsy Collins

 We were recording at King Records, which happened to be over in Cincinnati, Ohio, which happened to be where James Brown recorded his records. So that was our opportunity to get on the big stage. We knew that, so we hung over at King Records every day after school, waiting and watching for anybody. We happened to run into a guy called Charles Spurling, who was an A&R guy, and he liked us, he wanted to come and hear us. So we invited him down to a club and he came down and checked us out. He said, "Man, you cats have got a whole new energy, you’ve got the rhythm thing you all got. I want you to be my band over at King Records." So that started it, we went over to record some stuff at King Records with him. Once we did that, all the other producers there – Henry Glover, who produced Bill Doggett,HankBallard, Arthur Prysock, a whole slew of mugs. He was the first black country and western, soul, gospel, jazz producer, we had a chance to play on all these records before we got with James Brown. So we got to learn discipline by coming in the studio and vibing, like we did last night. You come in the studio and vibe, 'cause we didn’t know what was gonna happen. All we know is we’ve got our instruments and if you allow us to play we’re gonna tear this mother up! That’s all we knew. So we took that attitude wherever we went but we went in there to learn. But at the same time give us a chance and we’ll show you.

RBMA

 Now, it seems like the word country is coming up. What’s the relationship between country and funk?

Bootsy Collins

 King Records housed country, western and bluegrass, all of that was going on at King while we were recording r&b and soul and funk. So it was all under one roof and we got a chance to get a dose of it. Not that country and western is funk, but Lonnie Mack and Willie Nelson, to me, is the funk of what they do. I guess, it depends on the angle of the dangle and your point of view. I just considered these cats to be just as funky as anything else.

RBMA

 Who were some of the artists you were working with in the King days?

Bootsy Collins

 We actually went on the road with Hank Ballard after recording some records with him. Marva Whitney, who was James Brown’s female artist and was big back in the day, Lyn Collins,VickiAnderson. We got a chance to go out on the road with these before James said, "These guys are worthy. Let me take them out and funk them up for real." So he did.

RBMA

 Tell us a bit about how that happened 'cause that’s an interesting story.

Bootsy Collins

 Wow! Well, actually the time that we were not at King Records, we were moonlighting, doing our benefit gigs at different clubs. You had the Wine Bar, all of these different rat holes – we called them rat holes because none of them were bigger than this room, but we just loved to jam to these people. And they were loving it. Sure, they were drunk out of their minds but at the same time they were having a good time, everybody was. So we happened to be in this club called the Wine Bar, performing a benefit, and we got a call from Bobby Byrd. He said, "Hey, Bootsy man, the Godfather needs you to come to…" – what is it? Columbus, Georgia, yeah, Columbus, Georgia, I had to figure out where we were – "Columbus, Georgia, and he needs you right now." Now, mind you, we’re playing a gig and we said, "Nah, James doesn’t want us." "Yeah, he needs you right now. I’m coming up on a plane in James’ Learjet and I’m gonna pick you up in about 45 minutes." We thought it was a joke. Actually, he showed up in about 45 minutes and says, "Come on right now, just as you are." We looked at each other like this is unreal, but as funk would have it, we said, "Funk it!" We got on the plane, afro flew back, straight up, 40.000 feet. First time on a plane on a jet, that’s how we got broke in. We were virgins, man. Forty thousand feet in the air, going to be in James Brown’s band, it don’t get no better than that. We get to the arena and the people are mad. We didn’t know what we were walking into, all we know is we’re getting ready to play with James Brown. We didn’t know at the time he wanted us to be his band. We thought, since he’d sent us out on the road he wants us to open up, with Hank Ballard, open up with Marva Whitney. We had no idea he really wanted us to play behind him. We had got to be his original band’s friends, we looked up to them, they were our heroes. We didn’t ever think we were crossing the picket line. But when we walked in we were actually crossing the picket line, unbeknownst to us. We walked in, the band looking really crazy, like, "Who are these?" - and we’re supposed to be their friends. So after we get through that mess and the crowd booing because James is late, the show is late, then the people say it’s our fault. We didn’t have nothing to do with it. But the people thought we made the show late. So there’s a bunch of messes going on before we get back to the Godfather. Once we get back there he’s (imitates James Brown): "Uhh. I knew you could do it. I want you to go onstage and when I call these songs out I want you to play what I call out." "OK." He knew that we knew all the songs, but we didn’t actually think we were gonna get onstage with James Brown. So we get onstage and he calls them out: "'Cold Sweat.'" Bam! "I Feel Good." Bam! So we knew all the songs and we made it through the show. I don’t know how we made it, I was a little fuzzy because I was probably a little geeked, a little lit. It was unreal. Once we made it through the show it was, "OK, we’re taking off for two weeks. We’re gonna rehearse, we’re gonna get the show down, you’re gonna be the band and you’re gonna be called The JB’s." So that was the start of it, we were The JB’s.

RBMA

 Shall we play something?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, yeah, what about "Sunny"? That was deep for me. Check this out, it’s really deep. It wasn’t too far from here. Where was it? Italy, yeah. I’m 18-years-old.

(video: James Brown – Sunny/applause)

RBMA

 So how old were you then?

Bootsy Collins

 I was 18, just having the time of my life. Travelling all over the world. We stayed over here for about three weeks that particular outing. Then we went to Africa and stayed there about three weeks. Just touring everywhere, it was just crazy. So crazy in a good way, we got a chance to really see different cultures and styles. It was just amazing at that time.

RBMA

 Can you tell us a bit about your time in Africa?

Bootsy Collins

 Wow, that was pretty deep. They thought we were like gods. We stepped off the plane and they were like (bows) and we were, "Oh man, what is this?" I’m just right off the street, you know, coming into this thing. All of a sudden it’s (bows), but James Brown! When you’re with James Brown it’s, "Whoa!" We went from nothing to all the way up here. How does a young cat take that? We took it in a way that when I look back, it’s, "Wow, how did you get through those hoops, those distractions? All of the stuff, how did you get through that?" It’s really set up for you to fail. The more you get, the more you want. The more distracted you get, the more distractions seem to show up. We were so focused on music, I think that was the saviour, music was the saviour for us. We were so dedicated to wanting to play and to see people groove to what we were playing. Not like, "OK, we copied someone else and we want you to check our version of it." No, we got some original shit right here. That’s what we took to James Brown, we took our original energy and groove and he took that and put it in what he was doing. Bam! Here it is. We didn’t know that’s what was going on. But after years of being away from it, man, this cat was incredible. He took what we were doing and just put it put there. Africa, man, I think it was Fela Ransome then, later Fela Kuti, he invited us to his club. He was known as the James Brown of Africa, and, man, he invited us to his club. See this space here, it’s like maybe eight times bigger. And the roof – there was no roof, it was sky and stars and when you look up it’s like you’re outside. All you could hear on the way to the club is these rhythms and you’ll be talking to whoever you’re talking to and you’ll just be grooving for no reason. Then, when you get to the club and you see all these cats on the drums and they had guitars and basses. All we knew was Tarzan and Jane in Africa, that’s all we knew. So when we got to Africa and saw all this, it was, "Oh, my god!" We couldn’t believe it. That’s one thing that changed my life, I can say it probably had a deep effect on my life. The rhythms that they were doing, even though we didn’t have tape recorders and stuff like that, we were good at keeping things in the mind. Our minds were sharp 'cause we had to use them, we didn’t have to use computers, the easy way to do it. We had to use what we’d humanly developed. That’s where we’re getting weak at now. I can’t say weak. When you have to use something, it’s like a muscle. When you use something it gets stronger, when you stop using it, it gets weak and you go to something else. We as humans are evolving, but we’re losing the capacity to think on our own, 'cause we’ve got something to think for us. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but we’re definitely losing the capacity to go in the studio and say, "OK, like we did last night." We didn’t know nothing. But we just went in there and there was no pre-nothing, just: "Nick, what you hear, man?" "Oh, I hear a little something like this here." "OK, fall in, get your boy to fall in and we’ll see what we got." I think we’re losing that and we have to get back to interjecting that because that’s a quality we got we don’t wanna throw away. I don’t know how I got on the subject, but that’s the way the funk works. It’s funked up. But it feels so good to be able to vibe with each other and we got over there and started vibing with them cats, we rubbed off on them and they rubbed off on us, so it was good thing.

RBMA

 What did you think of Fela personally?

Bootsy Collins

 Incredible. Just incredible spiritually and musically. His rhythm was impeccable. Like James, every move he made we had to watch. We had to make sure we had a hit for it, and... (makes series of stab sounds). We had that down but we had to study the rhythm of his body. It wasn’t that we were forced to do that, but if you wanted to be with James Brown that’s what you did. We loved doing it to see if we could do it. The band before us, that’s what they did, and it was like, "Oh, we could do that." But saying it is one thing, but you actually have to get in there and do that. Proving things to myself was the biggest motivator. Proving things to people was nothing to me. I knew I could be the craziest and wildest, I knew that from an early age. But really proving to myself that I could do this thing, that I could get in there with these musicians, that I could get in here with any kind of genre - it ain’t got to be funk - and make it mine, proving that to myself was the biggest motivator.

RBMA

 James has a reputation of being a harsh bandleader. Is that true?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, yeah, that’s true and it was really good. Of course, us young knuckleheads weren’t really down with it. But at the same time if you know why you’re there to learn, you put all that stuff aside. It’s like, "This is the man right here and I wanna learn everything I can learn. Forget all this crap I’m talking about, that ain’t nothing, I’m here to learn from this guy; what makes this cat so this and so that? I wanna learn that." So that’s what I did.

RBMA

 Did you ever find yourself clashing with him?

Bootsy Collins

 Did I ever? We clashed all the time, but it didn’t matter. I knew where I was at, I was with greatness and I was nobody. I was just a knucklehead musician trying to crack a few nuts - and I was cracking quite a few and it felt pretty good - and I wanted it to continue growing and getting better and I knew that by being with him it could only escalate that. So I did my best not to clash so much. Whatever he said I tried to do it. Shine your shoes, keep pressing your pants. I failed on all that, I failed. I was proud of myself. I was supposed to comb my hair, if you noticed. You haven’t seen this one, but I want you to show them this video. My doggone afro was at the side, I was supposed to comb it so it was really nice looking. And you get up out of bed and you just go with it, just funk it. When you see this video. Which one is it? It’s either "Give It Up…" what you got up there? I don’t know if it’s on that but you can play it.

(video: James Brown – Give It Up Or Turn It Loose / applause)

Oh man, that wasn’t the one with the hair. That was one of my good days right there.

RBMA

 You also recorded quite a few classics with James in the studio. What was his process like there?

Bootsy Collins

 Our biggest one was "Sex Machine," that was the first to get international attention. That was done after we did a gig. Most of the sessions were after a show. James was always into not letting us have wild fun and hanging out with girls. As you know, Nick, you and the fellas, I just don’t know about you cats, man. You’re young, you wanna get out there, drink a little bit, have a bit of this and that. That’s kind of what we did. But we were known for that and James wasn’t down with that. He knew if we got distracted we were gonna miss some of those hits he was doing. And he was probably right. So what he’d do was take his time, then take us to the studio and in the studio we’d rehearse or record something. With "Sex Machine" we were on our way to the studio and we were riding a bus, from the gig, and he said (James Brown voice): "Bobby, gimme something to write with." He got a brown paper bag, tore the paper bag in half and he started writing. "I feel like a sex machine. Bootsy, Catfish, come on up here." (coughs) Man, when I talk like him, it’s… man! He said, "Come on up here." We went up in the bus, sat right behind him and Bobby Byrd and he wrote the lyrics. He said, "This is what I mean. (sings) Get on up, get on up…" That was our thing, so we had to read his body language, so it was like being in Japan and you don’t know the language. You have to interpret what he’s doing, what he’s feeling and what he’s saying. We were like, "Oh, like this?" "Yeah, that’s it, that’s it. I’m glad I thought of it. That’s it, son."

(laughter)

And then I’d fall in with the bass thing. "Yeah, Bootsy, Bootsy, Bootsy, you’re killing me." So we started right there and we’d take that to the studio. Once we got to the studio we had a good vibe of where we were going. That’s pretty much the way we would start it up. Some of the time we would go to the studio and we might be rehearsing on something and James would hear it and go, "Uhh, right there, right there. Just do that." And then that would become a song. That’s kind of how we record now. Of course, we’ve got all the goodies to help us, but then it was right off the top and you had to do it until you got it right. It wasn’t like you could walk in the studio and bam, there it is. You might come up with the thing, but you have to make it perfect, as perfect as it could be. We all wanted it that way, too, so that was another good point.

RBMA

 Shall we play "Sex Machine"?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, cool. Feel like a sex machine.

(music: James Brown – Sex Machine)

RBMA

 So you talk about searching for perfection in the studio. I think that might be one of a handful of perfect funk songs.

Bootsy Collins

 What’s really deep is when you’re actually doing it, we didn’t have no idea that we were creating something that was gonna be lasting, something people were gonna fall into and it was gonna groove people like that. I think that part of not knowing helps the experience of getting there. Wow, that sounds pretty deep. What did I say? (inaudible from audience) Oh, man! Wait, I said something pretty cool. The process of not knowing and the experience of getting there. Wow, that’s some bad stuff!

(applause)

I wish I had that in a capsule. But that to me is what really makes good passionate music. Not only music, good passionate anything, whatever you’re doing. If you apply that and just go with the experimental approach, I think that’s just like experimenting with a chick. Or a chick experimenting with you. That to me brings about the best combustibles, right? (points at audience member) That’s a new word, Nick, don’t steal my word, man. It brings about some extra organic stuff that makes you explode. I think that’s what happened with "Sex Machine," it was some organic stuff that bumped into each other and said, "Wow, I like you." "Yeah, I like you too." "Well, let’s funk some stuff up." And that’s what happened.

RBMA

 Were there a lot of opportunities for that kind of organic experimentation under James?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, that’s all we did, we didn’t have anything written out. I’d tell you a funny story but I don’t wanna take up too much time.

RBMA

 Go ahead.

Bootsy Collins

 Well, OK, you talked me into it. We were in the studio and this was the first time we got to play with a big band. You’ve got all these million horns, all these strings. We were just used to playing with the band, the regular band. Then he brought in this arranger, a guy named Dave Matthews, who’s actually still in New York. He came in, a really weird- looking dude, like a hippie dude who was the conductor of the orchestra. We were like, "Whoa! We wanna be with this guy." He had the long hair, the beard, he was just wow-looking! And it was perfect for us. He brought us in there and he said, "OK, this is what I want you to do." He set music in front of all of us, the horns, the strings. Me and Catfish are sitting next to each other and we kind of snickered a little bit. We don’t know how to read and he’s putting this music in front of us. "Doesn’t he know we don’t know how to read?" I guess, he couldn’t care less whether we could or not, he just figured since we were there we could do it. And we led him on to believe that we could do it. It was like a challenge for us. I looked at Cat, Cat looked at me and we said, "Let’s do what we do." Without even saying anything to each other, we were like, "Let it rip!" He was standing up there with his thing, he counted it off, everybody hit but us. We knew that if we heard it a couple of times we were gonna have it down. But nobody knew that but us. So they ran through it, he came over and, "Y’all got a problem?" "No, no, we just wanted to hear what it sounded like first before we jumped in. Can we hear it one more time?" He counts it off, play it again. So we say, "OK, we’ve got it. Roll the tape, we’re cool, we got it." "But I ain’t heard it." "Roll the tape, we got it."He counted it off (counts). It was the "Sunny" thing - that was the live version - but actually we recorded that in the studio. That was one of the songs. We also did "Georgia [On My Mind](sings)..., we did that with a big band and we’d never done that before. So Dave Matthews, he loved it so much, he didn’t stop it. I knew that he knew we weren’t playing what was on there because we had some extra-curriculars going on. I could tell he was going, "Yeah, yeah, I didn’t write that shit on there but I like it." So he was a really cool cat and after everything was over he came over to me and Cat, pulled us to the side and said, "Man, what an incredible job you did. I wished I could’ve written what you played. But I had no idea you didn’t know how to read, but thank God it all worked out." Me and Cat looked at each other 'cause we didn’t know what was gonna happen, we didn’t know if we were gonna get fired right on the spot in front of everybody. All we knew was, "We’re gonna make it through this, we don’t know how, but we’re gonna make it through this. I do this, you do that, there’s the music, we don’t know what we’re looking at, but we can feel the vibe." And we went with it. Thank god we made it through. Dave, to this day, laughs about it, 'cause no one else knew. The rest of the band had no idea. They thought Dave wrote that stuff and they came up to him, "You’re so incredible." But it was a good thing. Then Dave came back and sai,: "If you ever need me to help you with reading any of these things…" We said yeah, 'cause we were doing a lot of studio stuff then. We said, "If you could help us with the chords. When you do the music, write it in chords, not the notes, 'cause we have no idea, but if you give us the chords, the changes, we’ll wear it out." So that’s what he started doing for us instead of putting the notes up there for us to play. Every session we did with him, that’s the way we did it. It became a thang! But that’s not gonna work for everybody, that was just a thang. We made it through and I’m thankful.

RBMA

 You mentioned Dave Matthews coming from more of a hippie background. This was a really interesting time in music. Dave obviously had more of a straitlaced vibe, but when did the whole influence of psychedelia and hippie culture start creeping in?

Bootsy Collins

 That’s a good question. When you say it, we were having bashes or clashes. That was mainly because of that. Bands were coming on the scene, bands wanted to be in the forefront. Bands wanted to sing and play and get the girls instead of the singers getting them all. It was a perfect time, the bands were coming up and we were in that moment, we wanted to come up, being a band instead of playing behind singers. Singers were great, that’s how we got where we got. But at the same time, that movement that you’re talking about was beginning right there. And we just happened to fall into that. So after we played with James we wanted to go out and be a band, just play and be wild, dress the way we wanted to dress. So James was feeling that and he knew we were drawing away. So when we split we were looking for something to get with that was kind of like what we wanted to do: and that was get freaky on stage, get freaky with the music, just get freaky with it. That’s what time that was. That was the best time too, man. I could tell you stories…

RBMA

 Go ahead, that’s what you’re here to do.

Bootsy Collins

 No, no, no, there’s too many stories and it might make me wanna do it again. But those were some great times and I just hope I can bring some of that to the table now to help balance some of this stuff. These cats like Nick; and is Oliver here? There Oliver is, that cat on the keyboards. Stand up Oliver!

(applause)

That cat there, he reminds me of Bernie Worrell and the way we’d record stuff – I don’t know how I’ve jumped from James to George already, but that’s cool – I would go in the studio and maybe lay up, lay a track down like we do: the rhythm, the bass, Cat with guitar, and then a lot of time we had a drummer, or just a metronome thing. We would play a groove, just to get the idea down. Then when Bernie got up, he came on over, like Oliver did, and he didn’t even listen to the groove, he just sat down and started hitting it. That’s the way we did it. A lot of stuff would start off as a riff, like we did last night, and then things would just come. That was the whole concept and people just fit into that and had a good time with it. It just inspired everybody.

RBMA

 I think we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves. So after you split from James, how did you fall in with George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic?

Bootsy Collins

 How did I fall in? (pause) What happened was, after we left James Brown we were in Cincinnati, we reformed our old group. Philippé Wynne, who was actually from Cincinnati, he was our singer and we did the band stuff. We got a call from The Spinners from Detroit. They wanted us to be their backing band and for Philippé to be their lead singer. We said, "OK, cool, nothing else happening." Our James Brown money has run out. All we were doing was promoting ourselves, putting up posters, we had trunks full of records. Nobody was buying our records but us and we couldn’t even give our mugs away. We’d buy these records and pretty much gave them away at gigs. We went to Detroit with the intention of playing for The Spinners but once we got there we ran into this girl in a club named Mallia Franklin and she said, "Man, you need to meet up with George Clinton and Funkadelic." We were, "We’ve been trying to catch Funkadelic. We wanna take it to the stage with them mothers." We wanted to battle them, we were into that take-it-to-the-stage battling-on-the-stage thing ‘cause we knew we were bad, we felt we were the tightest and we felt like we would massacre anybody. Bang, we’re the baddest! It got to the stage where we started flaunting that, so we were, "Yeah, we’ll meet George definitely." So she took me over to George’s house and I walked in. First of all, imagine this, ladies and gentlemen: you walk into George Clinton’s house, no lights are on, nothing but a black light, no furniture, all you see is blackness and then over in the corner you see a sheet, a glowing white sheet sitting in the corner. I said, "Well, that must be George." I walk over. "How you doing, man? You know, Bootsy." "Man, I know, I’ve been looking for you." So we started up a conversation and he was, "Man, I’d love it if you would come out and become Funkadelic, help me do this thing on the road. I’m recording records, Parliament, Funkadelic." I said, "Well, the only thing is I’ve got this band. Philippé is with me and he would have to come as a singer." He said, "I don’t need other singers, I just need the band." I said, "Oh wow, that’s kind of deep." That was something I had to think about. "What do we need to do?" "Change your name to Funkadelic." "No, we can’t change our name." Our name was House Guests, and we wanted to stay with that. So he said, "OK, I just need you to go on the road so let’s hook that up." So we hooked that up, went back and told Philippé, "Why don’t you go with The Spinners 'cause they need a lead singer? You go with The Spinners, we’re gonna go with Funkadelic." It was perfect, perfect, couldn’t have worked out any better. So we went out with Funkadelic, we got out there and I think for the first couple of weeks it was Parliament / Funkadelic featuring the House Guests band, for the first couple of weeks. We stayed out there, taking LSD, the purple haze, the sunshine, the mescaline, you name it, all of that, and the next thing you know everybody was calling us Funkadelic. And it got so twisted that we started thinking, "Yeah, we are Funkadelic." So the next thing we know House Guests got eliminated off the posters and we became Funkadelic (laughs), and we was cool with it. So that’s how it started.

RBMA

 How did a Parliament tour differ from a James Brown tour?

Bootsy Collins

 Oh, it was totally insane. George’s whole thing was, "Whatever you’ve got, I want some of it. And whatever you’ve got, you ain’t got as much as I have." So you were always in that mode of showing George how much you’ve got. "Oh, I can do this. Check this." So it was always you proving that you’ve got more and than him allowing you to do that. How many people would do that, allow you to do this craziness? The world was run back then, too, by money and hits. If you didn’t have a hit record, if you come in here playing some cool, creative experimental stuff, it was (sweeps hand). It wasn’t like you were outta here, 'cause it was a time of creating new stuff, but record companies still wanted hit records. When George and I would go to the radio stations, they’d say, "We want you to do interviews and stuff, but you can’t use the word 'funk' and we can’t play your hit record 'cause it’s got all those airplanes in it." We were, "Airplanes? What is that?" They were talking about the strange sounds and all the (makes whirling noise), they were used to having the ties on and stuff. Especially for black music, black music was totally different. The Caucasian thing was more open, they were used to the rock scene, but blacks were more like, "No, he didn’t!" "Yes, I did!" So they had to get used to it. Jimi, the blacks were, “Oh no, that’s a little bit too freaky. We can’t deal with that." We didn’t know who we were at that particular time, you can’t get freaky like that. (to Nick) We don’t eat mouth, Nick. You know what mouth is? Huh? Nick, I know you know what mouth is?

(laughter)

Got anything you wanna tell me? Tell me what mouth is. Hold on, ladies and gentlemen. We had a code. Nick, Nick, you gotta live by the code now. So we had a code, we’d go round saying, "Man, I need some mouth tonight." You know what I’m talking about?

RBMA

 Wanna fill in the rest of us?

Bootsy Collins

 It might seep in there, let’s see how it goes. What it was, for a brother to eat mouth – y’all with me? - it was unheard of. Of course, now you had the younger brothers who were coming up who were, "Man, we can do anything, we don’t give a funk." So the new brothers, which I was part of, happily, we had fun with it, but at the same time our people were having very difficult problems with that. For us, wearing wild colours, we loved it, but the people weren’t into that. Most of that crazy stuff that Jimi was doing, the blacks weren’t into that. But the way we did it, we made it kind of cool. They started getting it. "OK, it might be alright to eat a little mouth. Let me try that." One or two might eat a little mouth, they tell their friends. Next thing you know ten people eating mouth, then you’ve got a whole city eating mouth. It was a good thing, Nick, it was great. You eat mouth, don’t you? (inaudible reply / laughs) So it wasn’t only the music, eating mouth went with that. But I’ll move on. You want me to move on? But that was the kind of thing that helped make funk a good word. Funk was a bad word when we were first starting, like, "You can’t say that on the radio." They wouldn’t let us do interviews 'cause our interviews were 90% the word funk. Oh, no! Then the demand started to happen, the more we played live and people were seeing what we were doing, they got familiar with it, the next thing you know they’re requesting our records to be played. The more visible, the more we got out there, the more people understood. "Ah!" 'Cause men’s first thing is, if they don’t understand something they shoot it down, so we got shot down. The good thing about us was when we got shot down it made us want to get back up. We wanted to prove, "Oh no, we know we got the funk and we’re gonna funk you up." That was just in the back of our mind. Like, when Muhammad Ali would say, "I am the greatest of all time." That’s what we felt with the funk. We’re the funkiest mothers in the universe and we don’t give a funk what you say. And then we’d funk them up. So Muhammad Ali would say he’s the greatest; if he said that and then couldn’t back it up, he’d be out the window. We felt we were the funkiest mothers in the universe and we wanted to prove it.

RBMA

 Well, you must have had a pretty liberal record label that would let you go out on that limb.

Bootsy Collins

 You know what? One of them, I can say one of them was very broadminded and he had signed Kiss and he had signed Parliament, Neil Bogart at Casablanca Records. The rest of them, they didn’t get it then and they never will get it. They only signed us because we were making money. We knew that, we didn’t have a problem with that, we just want to funk. And an outlet. We were gonna get an outlet, we didn’t know who or where, we were gonna get an outlet. George, I must say, was probably the most genius mother on the planet about the music and how it worked in the business in that circle. This cat orchestrated some mess that can’t be duplicated. We were all signed to major record labels. These were the same cats that were saying, "Uh oh, not you mothers. I want you, I want you, I want…" Uh oh, not Nick, no. (laughs) So we got that treatment all our career, we were used to that. Somebody’s gonna open the door, and once they opened the door, we gangbanged that mother. It was a pleasure, it was a joy. Once they let us in they can’t get us out of here. And they knew it. The only thing that was gonna take us out was us taking the drugs and overdoing the girl thing. Sure enough, that’s what happens to pretty much all of us. We take ourselves out. The greatest musicians, the greatest artists wind up taking themselves out. I’ve been given tons and tons of different chances, but this chance, I don’t wanna take it for granted. Some things you have to give up and my beautiful wife sitting right here. Patti, stand up baby! (Patti stands up / applause) There she is, she helped me get off drugs. Of course, we were heavily indulging in them at first. Then she got too deep, right, she got too deep with it. I said, "Is that the way I’m looking?" I figured, "OK, I probably look like that. Now I’ve gotta help her." We helped each other and in the end I got the best part of the deal as far as cleaning my life up, and realising I get another chance. I got a chance to get out here with Nick, Oliver, Red Bull, I got another chance to come out here and share some of this stuff so you won’t make the same mistake, man. I can’t call it a mistake, I would do everything the same way I did when I was doing it ‘cause that experience was so beautiful. I wouldn’t change that 'cause many of us don’t get a second chance to do this again. If I can help it, I’m gonna be around for a while with your help. So you continue to hold us up 'cause it’s very important that we stay around and share, man, just have fun together, funk together, eat mouth together. Right, Nick? (laughs)

RBMA

 What do you think it is that gives artists that self-destructive nature?

Bootsy Collins

 I’m gonna tell you exactly what gives artists that nature. It’s the BS that artists and musicians have to deal with and all they wanna do is create. All the artists wanna do is be creative and have a good time doing it. The BS is when you have to figure out the business end of it. It’s a curse and a blessing. The blessing is being creative, having a great time. "Oh, we really slammed it, we’re having a great time." And then the mug shows up and says, "OK, you owe me for this and such and such." "Oh man, I ain’t got the money." "What do you mean you ain’t got the money?" That whole part of it helps destroy the creative force that’s in there after a period of time. Some people it doesn’t take as long, some people it takes a long time to knock them down. Between that and getting the fun out, I call that getting the dog out of me. Nick, you understand what I’m saying? I love Nick, he’s so down, he’s with me, he understands my lingo. Yeah, I’ve got the translator over there for you. But the dog in you, especially the guys, we’ve got to recognise we do have that dog in us. The only thing you can do is release that mother, you’ve got to take him off the leash. The sad thing is when the female figures, "I can put him on a leash, no problem." That’s when you get like a James Brown and me kind of clash, when you think you can harness someone and control somebody. Throw that away, it ain’t about controlling. You can’t control a creative force, nobody can. With all the examples we get, haven’t we learned anything yet? It ain’t about controlling nobody, it’s about having fun with each other, sharing with each other, not dictating. "I own you." "No, you don’t own me." That’s the crap we’ve been put on. It’s not just musicians and artists, it’s the world. But I think musicians and artists can change that. That’s what I’m looking forward to, first for us to get that out of our minds. When you’re in a studio, it ain’t about dominating, unless you’re called on. When you’re called on to dominate, like we did last night, "OK, who’s gonna step up?" Everybody started looking around, then Nick said, "OK, I’ve got this." He stepped up. Then the drummer stepped up. Not saying this is wrong 'cause certain times you have a thing and you want it to go a certain way. Nothing is wrong with that, as long as you develop the attitude of service. I walk in the studio and it’s, "What do you want me to do?" "Oh man, we want you to just be you." "Well, that don’t tell me nothing. What do you really want me to do?" That to me is where we can grow and be the leaders of tomorrow, not controllers but leaders. That’s what we need out here now and that’s why you’re all here. It might be under the disguise of music, but at the same time as people we need to all grow. We’ve got to continue to do that. I don’t know where that rap came from, but there it is.

RBMA

 So getting back to your story, you had a lot of room to grow under George. I think you emerged as a songwriter and a creative force in general.

Bootsy Collins

 It was because of that I got that freedom. Same thing with Red Bull. When somebody thinks enough about you to say, "Come on in. What you got? Go ahead and do it." To me, there’s not enough of that and Red Bull are opening the door to that. It’s a beautiful thing to walk in here and see the people doing their thing. I got a chance yesterday to go to the different rooms. You call them bedroom studios – that is such a beautiful thing. These are the things I dream about doing actually being done. That’s amazing, it’s inspiring for me, it gives me hope. When you’re out there in the world listening to the same stuff, you just kind of lose hope. But when you see young people doing stuff together, that’s a whole other animal. It’s set for you to play with yourself. Nick, I’m pretty tired of playing with myself. Are you? Yeah, we can play together.

(laughter)

OK! But that’s what I saw here, people playing together, and today is extraordinary.

RBMA

 Shall we play something from the Funkadelic days?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, what you got? How about "Give Up The Funk"? Then I’ll probably hit that a little bit (picks up bass).

(music: Parliament – Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) / Bootsy plays along / applause)

That particular song that we did, we went into the studio as a band and just hit it. I came up with the (sings bassline), Bernie stepped in and came up with the keyboard stuff, Fred Wesley came in and did his thing on top of that and we all just did it at the same time. Those sessions were just incredible. What you finally heard was the best take of that song we did, but the other stuff, the jamming stuff we were doing that had nothing to do with this song, was probably some of the best stuff we’ve ever done. And nobody got to hear it. That’s the sad part about the record companies owning that stuff.

RBMA

 It’s on tape?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, it’s out there somewhere. But that’s another issue, another issue. All of that stuff was just getting in the studio and vibing. I’d like to call (points at participant) my boy, Jivraj(participant comes up / applause). What’s up, Bubble? This is a funky boy, I guess you already know. He’s a funky mug, man. Nick introduced me to him yesterday and he’s on the one, he’s on the one. So what I wanna do is give a demonstration of how we start a groove in the studio and then just go from there. Play "Funkentelechy," play a bit of it then we’re gonna show you how we started it off in the studio. You got it? What’s happening Bubble? I’m gonna have to take him back to the States, man.

(music: Parliament – Funkentelechy)

What I want to do is demonstrate a little of how that would work in a studio. Actually, I play drums on that too. Most people don’t know that I do a little drum thing too. I played drums on that, but let me tell you how I did it. We had a click track and if no one was available, which happened a lot ‘cause we stayed up all hours of the night, so whoever made it to the studio first was the one who had control of that day. I’d make sure I got there about 9am the next day. Doesn’t matter if I’d partied till about 6/7am, I’d be in the studio around 9am ready to hit it. I knew if I wasn’t I’ve got 25 other mugs ready to get in the studio. So what I’d do is play a line. Guitar player Catfish would do the line that I’m doing on this particular kind of song and we’d play to a click track. Once I get the click track down, then I get the drums on. So that’s how I did that. Bernie would come and do his keyboard thing. So we’re gonna demonstrate how this song came to – how do you say it? – fruitation. Is that a word?

RBMA

 Fruition.

Bootsy Collins

 God, what is fruitation, man? I’m still funked up. Alright, check it out.

(Bootsy plays bass / drums and keyboards come in)

That’s basically how we would put a groove together.

(applause)

You’re ready to go, ha? What have you been drinking? Oh, Red Bull, that’s right. Sounds good, man. One other track I wanna show how we’d put together is "Sir Nose." You got that?

(music: Parliament – Sir Nose d’Voidoffunk)

This is one we did live, so we all got in the studio with the drummer, keyboards, bass, horns, except all the vocals. So we did this as a crazy group thing. It went like this.

(Bootsy plays bass / drums and keyboards come in)

Lay it back, lay it back. Very important, lay it back. And that’s it y’all.

(applause)

Stand up fellows, give it up. On the one, on the one. That’s how we did our thing. Oliver, why don’t you and Nick come on back up? Since you’re already here, why don’t we demonstrate that vibe we did last night. (two participants come up) Give ‘em a nice round, y’all!

(applause)

We’re gonna demonstrate how we did this last night, kind of get a feel for it. Wait a minute, you were playing last night too. We don’t have two keyboards? It was great what you were playing, though. We don’t have another keyboard? Why don’t you come up with us? Give her a nice round now. (participant comes up / applause) Hands off, Oliver, that’s Nick’s girl. Oh, I’m sorry. (laughs) Oh, not the mouth, something tells me I shouldn’t have told Nick about the mouth. Nick is back now, he’s back. This is how we kicked it off. Now Nick, what’s the name of this song?

Participant

 It’s called "Ode To Bootsy."

Bootsy Collins

 Wait a minute, we keep changing the title, man.

Participant

 It’s called "ABD."

Bootsy Collins

 I Am!

Participant

 "I Am ABD."

Bootsy Collins

 Here we go. Are you all ready? You think you heard something already. Wait till I tell you what the band name is. (shouts) Are you ready for the band name?

Participant

 We’re called Fuck Shit Up.

Bootsy Collins

 Here we go, we’re gonna count it off.

(music: Fuck Shit Up – I Am ABD)

Stay right in the pocket, right in the pocket. Here we go, one, two, three, bridge (Bootsy ad libs).

(applause)

On the one, baby. Ain’t you glad you came up here? Now you see what we can do when we’ve got a joint together, it’s just such a great vibe. So we’re not gonna hold them too much longer, right?

RBMA:

Shall we take some questions?

Bootsy Collins

 I want them to see one thing. A tribute to Jimi Hendrix, who actually I got a lot of influence from.

RBMA

 Why don’t you tell us how Jimi influenced you?

Bootsy Collins

 Jimi was the only one, besides my brother Catfish, who I had in my room with the black light on. I had a Jimi Hendrix picture over my bed. I’d come in and smoke weed with my black light on and look at my Jimi Hendrix picture for days and listen to his music. Not only did he do so many things musically, but he crossed so many boundaries, like we were talking about before. For me, as a young black man, Jimi Hendrix was like God. He was doing all of what I saw myself as able to do because of him. I was looking at him and thinking, "Wow, if he did that then I can do it." He was an inspiration for me. My brother was eight years older than me, so Jimi was like nine or 10 years older than I was. So for me it was, "Wow, this is incredible." I said to myself when I got the chance to do a record the way I wanted to do it, I’d do a tribute to Jimi Hendrix and to James Brown. This tribute here is to Jimi Hendrix. The quality isn’t too great with the video, but check it out, the song is off the new album. It’s called "Mirrors Tell Lies."

(music: Bootsy Collins – Mirrors Tell Lies / applause)

The master, yeah, yeah. What happened to help this come to, what is it, fruitation?

RBMA

 Fruition.

Bootsy Collins

 Why can’t I get that word right? We did some stuff with the family, Janie Hendrix. The box set that they did – what is it called, Seattle Boy? – I actually got a chance to do the voice of Hendrix. So reading his personal stuff, actually doing the voice for that, totally blew my mind, just wiped me out completely. So I got the chance to do that. Whoever knew, a long-haired sucker from out on the street, had Jimi Hendrix up on the wall, that I would be chosen to do a voice for him? So this is perfect timing, I thought I’ve gotta do a tribute. So I asked the family could I use something that he said. They said sure. So they sent me a few things and I picked out what I thought would be great for this record and it’s actually Jimi’s voice that you hear. Man, it touched me in a way that no mouth ever touched me. No offense, but it’s a whole different level, you know? But we’ll keep moving.

RBMA

 One of the interesting things about bringing everyone over here, you get to see stars become fans.

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, everyone has come up on somebody, is a fan of somebody. With this album I wanted to make sure that young people especially knew that, OK, they might be fans of us now, but we were fans of somebody else. And whom you just saw was a fan of somebody else. So what you do is you go back and connect the dots so you can be educated, 'cause if you just go with what’s happening today like everyone’s been programmed to do, then you don’t really know the history. Not only do you want to be a great musician, you wanna know your history of where your music came from so you’ll be that much ahead of the next drummer. You’ll have something more to offer. It’s not just, "I’m an artist." Take your artistry as many places as you can, especially on an educational tip. That’s what we also did on the James Brown tribute. If we can rewind on that one we’ll be good to go. This is on the same album as well, a tribute to James Brown who brought me into the business.

(Bootsy Collins feat. Rev Al Sharpton – JB: Still The Man)

James Brown, y’all.

(applause)

RBMA

 So do you think we’ve got a few minutes for some questions?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, if you want.

RBMA

 Can we get some mics?

Participant

 I remember in that video that we opened with that Snoop Dogg said if there were no Bootsy Collins there’d be no Snoop Dogg, which is something I totally agree with. So I’m curious whether you have a favourite G-funk record.

Bootsy Collins

 Probably would be "Gin And Juice," probably that one.

Participant

 Good choice.

Participant

 Did you play bass on Deee-Lite’s "Groove Is In The Heart" or did you just do vocals on that?

Bootsy Collins

 Yeah, bass and vocals.

Participant

 How did you…?

Bootsy Collins

 It was originally a sample.

Participant

 Have you had any other experiences with house music or dance music?

Bootsy Collins

 Oh yeah, Fatboy Slim. We did "Weapons Of Choice"and"Illuminati." I did a few things with Fatboy. That would probably be the biggest house-type thing that I’ve done. But I’ve recorded a lot of that kind of stuff, definitely. Deee-Lite was one of the best experiences I’ve had. We came to Madrid and played with Deee- Lite and it was awesome, really good time. (pause) Oh, thank god it wasn’t Nick with a question. Oh, it’s coming, it’s coming. (laughs) I better run and hide, help me, not Nick.

Participant

 What’s going on? You talked a lot about recording and that process, but we didn’t really get into the rehearsing process, the work ethic. I did my research on you and The JB’s, Parliament and Funkadelic and James Brown and everything. I always hear stories about the brutal rehearsals and I want you to get into that a little bit.

Bootsy Collins

 That’s good, that’s good. We took rehearsals probably even more serious than we took the shows. At rehearsals we just kept at it. I remember last night we were playing this thing you heard, we played it a few times, and somebody said, "Oh, one of my fingers is hurting." That was unheard of. I remember fingers bleeding. We practised until people’s hands bled. And we weren’t doing it on purpose to make people’s hands bleed, we were just trying to get it right. A keyboard player told me a couple of years ago - and I never recognised this, I guess when you’re so focused you don’t look at the physical part of it, you’re just, "OK, we’ve gotta get this done." He pulled me aside - we were rehearsing again to get ready for this tour we did a few months ago and we rehearsed for two weeks, every day. To me this was nothing. He called me to the side and said, "Man, do you remember the rehearsals we used to do?" I said, "Yeah, I remember." "Do you remember our hands bleeding?" I never even thought about that, but it was nothing, we just had to get it done. Musicians’ hands were bleeding on the keyboards, you’d have blood on the piano, blood on the guitar. But this was just a part of it, we wanted to get it right. And it wasn’t just me. This is a good point, I’m glad you brought this up. The way I got it instilled in me is that you, each one of you, are responsible for your note, like it or not. When we were with James Brown, if somebody dropped out you could tell. It’s like driving a car with eight cylinders and two of them drop out. You’re gonna notice that. It wasn’t about dropping out, taking a smoke, having a drink. We had to be on it. The break was when we had a chance to go offstage for 10 minutes. Then if we had to go back, bam, we were on. But there was no break on stage. It was (clicks fingers) all night long. It was unheard of, "I’m turned, I’ve gotta go and do this." I ain’t gotta go do nothing! This is what I do. I listen to all of this stuff now and I don’t come down on it because I understand people didn’t come up that way. I happened to come up when you had to work that hard at it. We didn’t have anything to take the pressure off. You had to use your memory, you had to go in the studio and remember your part. "Remember when I told you that riff over at so-and-so’s two nights ago?" "Oh yeah, man, I got that." "Play it!" (mimes guitar) "Oh yeah, he’s got it." There were no tape recorders. Then when we hit the studio it’s, "OK, everybody hit this riff." And we’re on it. And if we’re not on it then we rehearse and we rehearse until we get it. And that’s just the way it was. So when they try to squeeze me into a box about what’s better, today or then, it’s not really about that, it’s all just different times when we come up. I’m just used to a certain level of punishment, but it’s the kind of punishment I knew would help me grow. When you look at it as punishment for punishment’s sake, that will make you back off. I embrace it. Another thought to leave you with, when I say embrace it, the good stuff, when people tell me about what James did to me, why I didn’t get paid for "Sex Machine" when I came up with the bassline - "you should be getting this and you should be getting that" - the way I look at it is I should be paying him for being in the presence of his greatness. To tell somebody that today, they don’t understand that. So I don’t waste time saying that 'cause it’s useless for someone who hasn’t come up in that time. So the punishment that he gave out, when people say, "Was he strict, was he demanding?" - of course, he was strict and demanding. And he better have been, 'cause we would have run over him. We were young raw kids from off the street. You better have some balls about yourself ‘cause we’re gonna come in and dominate. And he knew. But his whole thing was, "It’s gotta be like this." But he left room for us in the whole street arena 'cause he knew we had the fresh street thing. He wasn’t stupid, that’s why he got to where he got. Just know that even the boss person, the one who gets on your last freaking nerve, that could be the very mug that helps push you to be the greatest that you could possibly me. Keep that in mind as opposed to, "Oh, I’m so sick and tired of him." I wasn’t sick and tired of James Brown 'cause I knew I was getting something, I might not have been able to call it out, but I knew, with the rehearsals and all that. Today, it’s in me, that’s what I do. I don’t even think about it, I can go on forever with that. We were recording last night and they were, "You want to sit down?" "Nah, let’s roll, let’s roll." Once that’s inbred in you, that stays with you, and that’s what I want you to try to embrace because when you’re not used to doing it the hard way, you’ll always take the easy way out. But if you build your muscle and continue to build it you’ll get stronger and stronger and stronger and wiser and wiser. And that’s what you want to be – you don’t wanna be a stupid musician out there playing music. Of course, that would be great. I was a stupid musician out there having a good time, it was great. But I looked at a lot of my friends and they’re not here any more. What can I do? I’ve gotta get smart, I’ve gotta get something. If this is your living then you’ve got to get it together. It’s practising, studying, all the things you don’t really… all of that. I hate to bore you with that kind of rap. That’s the real deal and not the deal dough.

Participant

 Thank you.

(applause)

Bootsy Collins

 Thanks for that, that was good, man. Oh no, not Nick.

Participant

 When I first started collecting vinyl, Funkadelic records were always… 'cause when you’re crate-digging and you go through all those crates and some records might look the same. But Funkadelic’s all boom! Crazy colours, spaceships, aliens. What is this? I didn’t even know at the time that your records became what I sought out. So I kept getting copies in better and better condition 'cause most of the time they were super-worn-out. One of the prizes is this really nice copy of Maggot Brain. The cover just bugs your eyes out, you know, but the record itself is really groundbreaking and amazing, it’s still one of my favourite albums.

Bootsy Collins

Eddie Hazel, man. Underrated, I know what you’re saying.

Participant

 I was wondering if you had any thoughts about that era of Funkadelic.

Bootsy Collins

 Eddie Hazel, he was that cat. He brought the rock element to Funkadelic that broke all the boundaries with just being a black group. I think the mixture made Funkadelic what it was at a time when it wasn’t globally accepted, a black man playing rock music. So it was always a struggle when you’re first doing stuff like that. It’s always a struggle to get through. "Ah, they shouldn’t be doing that. Put some tyres on." People are not open enough to accept you. It’s the same thing we were talking about with the Jimi thing, especially, black people weren’t ready to accept that.

Participant

 Some of the albums I get mixed up which tracks are on which, but I think Maggot Brain has "Who Says A Funk Band Can’t Play Rock Music"? Is that Maggot Brain?

Bootsy Collins

 No, that wasn’t Maggot Brain but I know the song you’re talking about.

Participant

 'Cause the first time I heard that song I thought it was damn on it.

Bootsy Collins

 That all comes from embracing the people saying, "No, you can’t do that," and then saying, "Well, funk you, check this out." That’s the privilege we’ve got, to express what we feel. We’ve got a privilege that a lot of people just don’t have. It’s up to you to use that privilege and not abuse it, so it’s a very thin line between misuse and use. I want you to use me but nobody wants to be misused. When you put yourself in that perspective, when you see yourself misusing somebody, think to yourself, "Would I wanna be misused?" Nobody wants to be misused. I wanna be used. Use me, James, use me. George, use me. I love being used. But when it comes down to misusing, we as people, we don’t wanna be misused. So let’s bring it to the table, even if you can’t explain it. Be about using. I’m good with that. Misuse, there’s nothing wrong with that ‘cause it brings about telling them, (points at participant) like, you know, that song, it brings about those things. So in reality it really is all good, ‘cause in the end it works for you if you embrace it. The ones that don’t embrace it, they have a struggle. That’s our gig, to help ease that burden, kind of break it down lightly. I don’t know why I’m getting so deep. You shouldn’t ask these deep questions, man. Don’t you know I’m deep? Oh no, not Nick. Oh, it’s serious? OK.

Participant

 The dynamic between you and Bernie Worrell. Before you guys, no one had ever done the low-end with the acoustic bass synth and it’s still being bitten to this day. I met Bernie a few times and just share with the room, that man…

Bootsy Collins

 For me, I ran into a guy that was so brilliant, knew how to play what he played frontwards and backwards. I came from a school where all I knew is what I felt. When we got together, the wrong stuff that I would play, sometimes he would try to correct me, until he found out that that shit works. He would embellish the wrong that I was playing, and it sounded right. And with his stuff, all the right stuff that he would do, I’d come in and funk it up. We embraced each other – it’s the thing I was talking about – we embraced each other even though we were from different schools. Musically we were on the same experimental tip. "Let’s see what we can do with this. Yeah, yeah." We just came together so beautifully and to this day – we just came off the road, Bernie and Blackbird, and it just keeps getting better. So there’s something to that, embracing even the wrong stuff. I’m gonna tell you something. (to interviewer) Is it all right? Can I tell them something?

RBMA

 Go ahead.

Bootsy Collins

 When I was coming up, a lot of kids had fathers. I was always, "Damn, how come I ain’t got no dad?" I never met my dad, don’t know who he is. So it was kind of deep for me, but after I started getting older, getting out in the street, I realised I’m the man, I’m supposed to be the man. I’m the man that’s not in the house. I started realising a lot of things; instead of getting angry about not having a father, I accepted it, that in some ways I’m filling that void in the home. I started trying to take care of everything, being responsible. I’m just as crazy as the average mother, but by not having that father in the house I start thinking differently. Then I start thinking, "Why do women pick dudes that give them babies and then leave them? That’s wrong." My mother, she said my dad was an alcoholic, he was this, he was that. All I can go by is what she tells me 'cause I don’t know. But if he hadn’t have been who he was, I wouldn’t be here. If she hadn’t have left him when she left him, I probably still wouldn’t be here. So I learned how to embrace the part of, "My dad was this, my dad was that. That’s what they say. But he was the reason why I’m here." Then I started looking at the bigger picture, when I was getting out in the world a little more, I started looking at why does my sister keep picking losers? Why? Then I’m, "Cut the why. It’s not even about the why. If she hadn’t have picked the man she picked, you wouldn’t have that great nephew you’ve got right now that works three jobs, that takes care of the family, that does this and does that." I started getting an… what is it? Help me with these words.

RBMA

 Epiphany.

Bootsy Collins

 Epiphany, that’s it. I never went to school, man, I went to psychotic bump school. But these things help me grow not only mentally, but spiritually and musically. I started realising that all of these things that we don’t want to happen to us happen to us for a reason. And it’s up to you to grab that reason and realise it’s for your good. No matter what you think about it, what you think about that teacher, that boss, the girl next door, the guy next door. If he’s getting on your nerve, it’s a reason. And the reason is for you to get yourself together. Not worry about him or her, it’s for you. This place is for you. If you were to come in here and my man is getting on your nerves… "I love the school, but the teachers…" If you can get your mind over that, then you can get the lesson that you really wanna learn. But if you can’t get your mind around that then they’ve got you. The world is designed to get you like that. They show you all this stuff and when you’ve caught up, it’s like, "We’ve got them now." Show me all that stuff, it’s cool, I embrace it, it’s all good. It can’t do you any harm unless you let it. OK? We have full control of this stuff. I don’t know why I’m…

(applause)

Jess, you brought it out, man. I was trying to be cool.

RBMA

 Any other questions? Well, give it up for Bootsy Collins.

(applause)

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