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What Is Funk? PDF Print E-mail

The FUNK: As I Know it!

FUNK: Different people may give you different interpretations of the history of the funk. This is how I experienced it. Soul music was always funky and it has always made you dance. The James Brown camp were always doing their own thing and created their model of the funk. The same could be said of Soul music and performances. The Chambers Brothers and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were entertaining hard rock audiences. In the middle of black and white audiences during the late 1960’s was Sly & the Family Stone. It was the death of Jimi Hendrix that brought on a discovery of his sound with black audiences inviting several groups to incorporate his sound into their style. This can be said of Funkadelic, The Buddy Miles Express, The Isley Brothers and the Bar-kays. All of this came together and it was called Black Rock. By the early 1970’s this new style with heavy lead guitars and thumping bass lines was now referred to as the Funk! Some of the cast of characters out of the history of the Funk were The JB's, Mandrill, Earth Wind & Fire, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Prince, The Five Stairsteps, The Jackson Five, Betty Davis, Issac Hayes, The New Birth, The Nite-liters, The Tower of Power, Osibisia, Rare Earth, Graham Central Station, The Meters, Labelle, The Temptations, Cymande, MFSB, The O'Jays, Maxayn, Bloodstone, Ike & Tina Turner, Johnny Guitar Watson, Isaac Hayes, The Counts, Mother’s Finest, Curtis Mayfield, The Brides of Funkenstein, Slave, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, The Brothers Johnson, Billy Preston plus much more. You can hear all of these wonderful examples of The Funk each and every week on The Funk Show!

My Interview history

Conducting interviews was the farthest thing on my mind when I first started this show. One of the first things that I noticed whenever I spoke to an artist was "Can we do an interview?" At first I backed off but I continued to hear this over and over again. I soon discovered that many of these artists have a story to tell and they want the public to hear it. Once I began the interview process it never stopped and literally this began by accident. Through these interviews I have heard powerful testimonies, heart breaking stories, heart felt stories, successes, failures, pride, and have made long lasting friendships. When I first sat down with Mr. Bobby Byrd he told me the story of how James Brown was discovered. He began by saying “I am writing a book. I don't do interviews, but I'm gonna tell it to you". Reverend Freddie Stewart of Sly & the Family Stone told me the story of how he came to Christ. Lester Chambers told the story of how he and Miles Davis liked to cook together. I had the late Richard Kush Griffith on my show three times. He was a veteran of the James Brown Orchestra, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Bottom & Company and P-Funk. We became friends and would talk once or twice a week about the history of the music. If he hadn’t heard from me he would leave me a voice mail message and would say "Dog this is Kush. I haven’t heard from you and I just want to make sure that you are all right". Buddy Miles was on my show twice and the second interview was one of the last before he died. I wanted to speak to him about Jimi Hendrix, which he did. I discovered that he seemed to be more proud of the years when he was the front man for the group The Electric Flag and he also told me that he at one time played drums for The Monkees. I had Robert "Kool" Bell from Kool & the Gang on my show and he talked about their early beginnings in Jazz. Their original name was the "Jazziacs". When Jimmy Castor and I did the interview I wanted to talk about The Jimmy Castor Bunch and being a black artist at RCA records. We did talk about that but, I discovered that Jimmy was still very proud of Frankie Lymon. He talked a lot about how Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers were one day just school kids in sneakers and the next day in suits and on TV. A very similar thing happened when I talked with Jean Terrell the day after Christmas. My goal was to talk about Motown and how she came to replace Diana Ross in the Supremes. She talked about that; but the discovery was that she talked a lot about her family especially her brother Ernie Terrell. He was a boxer who fought Muhammad Ali in 1967. She was still very proud of him. Teena Marie let me know that she was at Motown before Rick James. Her band which was a family act with her brothers and sisters were hired by Motown to record tracks for a film that Motown was producing. Chuck Barksdale of the mighty mighty Dells informed me that the Dells have been together for 58 years. That is incredible. As original members they have outlived groups like the Temptations, The Four Tops and the Miracles. I also discovered that Minnie Ripperton recorded with the Dells on Chess Records as a background vocalist. You never know what you will get out of an interview while trying to document the funk.

Here is a list of some of the artists that I have had the pleasure to speak with about their musical history on the FUNK SHOW:

Bernie Worrell, Bobby Byrd, Vickie Anderson, Richard "Kush" Griffith (James Brown & P-Funk), Buddy Hank (Slave & Aurra), Corey Parker (son of Maceo Parker), Dawn Silva(The Brides of Funkenstein), Jimmy Castor, Ray Davis (Parliament - Funkadelic), Chuck Brown (The Soul Searchers), Dean Francis (SUN), Frankie "Kash" Waddy (Parliament - Funkadelic), Freda Payne, Jack Ashford (The Funk Brothers), Mark Green (The Moments), Lou & Ricardo “Doc” Wilson (of Mandrill), Vet Stone (Little Sister), Charles Wright of the 103rd St. Rhythm Band, Bill Curtis (The Fatback Band), Leslie & Melvin Wilson (The New Birth), Gerald Alston (The Manhattans), Buddy Miles, Marlo Henderson (Maxayn), Andre Lewis (Maxayn & Mandre), Maxayn Lewis, Damon Harris (The Temptations), Jean Terrell (The Supremes), Charles Hawkins (Black Merda), Fugi, Reverend Freddie Stone (Sly & the Family Stone), Waldo Weathers, Joe Davis (The James Brown Orchestra), Shirley Jones (The Jones Girls), Blowfly, Don Byron, Joe Bataan, Willie Feaster (Willie and the Mighty Magnificents), Fred Cash (The Impressions), MC Dannie Ray (The James Brown Show), George Duke, Dennis Coffey, Helen Scott (The Three Degrees), Kenny Gamble, Bertum Brown (The Newcomers & Kwick), Zigaboo Modeliste (The Meters), Wendell Sudduth (The Eight Minutes), Gregory Johnson (Cameo), Lester Chambers (The Chambers Brothers), Randolph Murph (The Brighter Side of Darkness), Leo Norcentelli (The Meters), Al Johnson (The Unifics), The Homemade Jamz Blues Band, Gil Bridges (Rare Earth), Derrick Davis & Jeno Thomas (The Original P), Joyce Kennedy & Glenn Murdock (Mothers Finest), Bunny Debarge, Henry Ford & the Gifts, Howard Scott & Harold Brown (The Low Rider Band & WAR), Chris Jasper (The Isley Brothers), Emilio Castillo (The Tower of Power), Ben E. King, Kevin Murphy & Tony Maiden (Rufus), Bobby Watson (Rufus), Ron Banks (The Dramatics), William King (The Commodores), Teena Marie, Chuck Barksdale (The Dells), Jerry Martini (Sly & the Family Stone), Thomas J. Norwood (Ike & Tina Turner), Mose Davis (The Counts), Bettye Lavette, Steve Arrington, Curtis Pope (The Midnight Movers), Gloria Jones, Sarah Dash (Labelle), Billy Cox, King Raymond Green (Black Heat), Billy Osborne (LTD), Roame Lowry (Maze featuring Frankie Beverly), Ernie Isley, Brenda Lee Egar, The Five Stairsteps & Cubie, (Clarence Burke, Jr, Betty Burke, Clarence Burke Sr., Cubie Burke, Dennis Burke and Ramijimar Habeebullah (Alohe Burke)), Dottie Moore-Thomas (Chee Chee & Peppy), Josh White, Jr, Judy White-Goard and Kelli Goard-Ellis, Renn Woods, Sugar Pie de Santo, Angela Bofill, Norman Conners, Syl Johnson, Barbara Roy, Leon Huff, Clifford Curry (The Notations), Gus Redman (Bruswick Records), Reginald "Prophet" Haynes (The Escorts),  Marshall Thompson (The Chi-lites), Bo Digitally Scott Free, Lloyd Price, Maxwell Pickett (brother of Wilson Pickett), Ben Cauley (The Bar-kays), Newton Collier, Eddie Ray (NC Music Hall of Fame), Richard Spencer (The Winstons), Fred Wesley, Swamp Dogg, Lalah Hathaway, Otis Clay, Debbie McPhatter, Timmy Thomas, Jean Carne, Patryce "Choc'let" Banks, Jerome Bigfoot Brailey, Greg Errico, La La Brooks, Ken Knox, Lonnie Youngblood, Chuck Jackson, author Charles Stephenson, Jr., Timothy “Teebone” David (Trouble Funk), Harry Wayne Casey (KC & The Sunshine Band), Rick Stevens (Tower of Power), Warren "Pete" Moore (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles), Thomas Bucknasty (Thomas McNeil and Michael Ray), Sam "The Man" Lathan, Jim Gilstrap, Lloyd Smith (The Bar-kays), Harry Coombs, William Hart (The Delfonics), Tom "Tom Tom 84" Washington, J. Plunky Branch (Plunky & Oneness), J.C. Davis, Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul and Sidney Barnes. 

We are documenting the history of the Funk!