A blog about the arts, books, flora and fauna, vittles, and whatever comes to mind!

Note: Comments are moderated. If you include a link, your comment will not be published. As you will note, I do not accept ads on my website and that includes in comments.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Funk U

Hold it!  Calm down, and read it again slowly.  I said "Funk U", as in the online university that educates students about funk music.  Begun last July by William Earl "Bootsy" Collins, the online bass guitar school hopes to eventually expand to cover other music styles.

Image courtesy of www.bootsycollins.com.

Bootsy Collins rose to fame as a groove guru when he was the innovative bassist for James Brown in the late 1960s/early 1970s.  His driving bass guitar made him famous, and coupled with his humorous vocals he became a leading artist in the funk genre.  He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, along with fellow members of the collective known as Parliament-Funkadelic.

Although Bootsy has stated that Brown taught him discipline and was a father figure as well as a great teacher, Brown's rigid command eventually rankled him. Collins and his brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins formed the band House Guests, which released several singles.  He then met George Clinton, and in 1972 joined Funkadelic.  Funkadelic and Parliament were two groups which shared most members, but operated concurrently under their respective names.  Bootsy was a major contributor to the P-Funk sound, and was featured on most of the albums up until 1980.  P-Funk is the collective name for Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy's Rubber Band, and the P-Funk All Stars.

Bootsy Collins, 1997.  Photo courtesy of AP.

In 1976 he formed Bootsy's Rubber Band, which was a separate touring unit of the P-Funk collective.  They recorded four albums, three of which are considered to be cardinal examples of P-Funk recordings.  In 1984 Bootsy worked in collaboration with Talking Head's Jerry Harrison on a dance record edited from Ronald Reagan "Five Minutes" speech.  Credited to Bonzo Goes to Washington, it's called Five Minutes.  In 1990 he collaborated with Deee-lite on their huge hit "Groove is in the Heart".  Since then he has been involved with a varied number of musicians and groups.   Last October he was awarded a Bass Player Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in Los Angeles.

"Casper the Funky Ghost" and "Bootzilla" ("the world's only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll")  are two of his alter egos.  His revolving character is an alien rock star who gets gradually more bizarre.  He also adopted a trademark "Space Bass", which has been several sequential custom-made bass guitars.  During last year's NAMM show (National Association of Music Merchants) German bass guitar company Warwick introduced a customized Infinity Bass - "Bootsy Collins Black Star Signature Bass" with either black or orange stars.

Warwick's Bootsy Collins Artist Serie - Bootsy Collins Orange bass guitar. 

Cory Danziger was a child actor who currently is involved in several business enterprises.  He partnered with Bootsy in developing Funk U.  This is an online only school with Bootsy as curator and lead professor.  Guest professors include: John B. Williams, Flea, Victor Wooten, Les Claypool, George Clinton and Meshelle Ndegeocello.  There are online lessons and periodic staff reviews of student performances.  Because of his own abilities, the curriculum starts with funk and it starts with bass guitar.  Eventually he would like to expand to include other instruments and genres.

Bootsy Collins, 1978, image courtesy of Getty images.

Funk U offers year-round enrollment, and the video lectures, lessons and exercises are available on-demand.  Classes run $34.99 per month/$189.99 for six months/$349.99 a full year.  No enrollment numbers have been released as of yet. But if you want to get seriously funked up, here's your chance!


"Keep it funky" and donate to the Bootsy Collins Foundation,
which promotes learning by giving youths, teens, and adults
the chance to experience life through music.

Check out Bootsy's page on Facebook for updates on his

Thanks to Ralph Dumain for turning me on to Funk U.