American singer-songwriter and funk bass player (Parliament-Funkadelic) William Earl “Bootsy” Collins was born October 26, 1951 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. He became famous with James Brown in the early 1970s, and later with Parliament-Funkadelic, Collins’s driving bass guitar and humorous vocals established him as one of the leading names in funk.Collins is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. In 1968 Collins formed a funk band called The Pacemakers With his elder brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins, Frankie “Kash” Waddy and Philippé Wynne and they were hired as James Brown’s backing band and became known as The J.B.’s. (They are often referred to as the “original” J.B.’s to distinguish them from later line-ups that went by the same name.) appearing on “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine”, “Bewildered”, “Super Bad”, “Soul Power”, “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing”, and two instrumental singles, the much-sampled “The Grunt” and “These Are the J.B.’s”.
After parting ways with James Brown, Bootsy returned to Cincinnati and formed House Guests with his brother Phelps Collins, Rufus Allen, Clayton “Chicken” Gunnels, Frankie Waddy, Ronnie Greenaway and Robert McCullough and released the song “What So Never the Dance”. Collins moved to Detroit, after Philippé Wynne suggested joining The Spinners. However, following the advice of singer and future Parliament member Mallia Franklin both Collins brothers joined George Clinton and Frankie Waddy in Funkadelic. Bootsy played bass on most of Funkadelic and all of Parliament’s albums (with the exception of Osmium) through the early 1980s, garnering several songwriting credits as well. In 1976 Bootsy, Catfish, Waddy, Joel Johnson, Gary “Mudbone” Cooper, Robert Johnson and The Horny Horns formed Bootsy’s Rubber Band, a separate touring unit of Clinton’s P-Funk collective. The group recorded five albums together, the first three of which are often considered to be among the quintessential P-Funk recordings. The group’s 1978 album Bootsy? Player of the Year reached the top of the R&B album chart and contained the single “Bootzilla”.Like Clinton, Bootsy took on several alter egos, from Casper the Funky Ghost to Bootzilla, “the world’s only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll”, all as parts of the evolving character of an alien rock star who grew gradually more bizarre as time went on . He also adopted his trademark “space bass” around this time.
In 1980 Bootsy released his first “solo” album “Ultra-Wave”, and Sweat Band, on George Clinton’s Uncle Jam label with a group billed as Bootsy’s Sweat Band. He also was credited for producing the debut of P-Funk spinoffs Zapp and Roger.In 1984, Bootsy collaborated with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads to produce “Five Minutes”, a dance record sampled and edited from Ronald Reagan’s infamous “Five Minutes” speech. The record was credited to “Bonzo goes to Washington” (also referenced in the 1985 Ramones song “Bonzo goes to Bitburg”, derived from Reagan’s starring role as Professor Peter Boyd in the 1951 comedy film Bedtime for Bonzo).After a nearly five-year hiatus, Bootsy had a comeback in 1988 (with some help from producer Bill Laswell). What’s Bootsy Doin’?flaunted a new sound that foreshadowed the 90’s, such as the dancefloor smash “Party On Plastic”. Laswell introduced Bootsy to Herbie Hancock, resulting in Perfect Machine. The techno-funk they recorded featured turnables for scratch appeal, and the smoothly-stylized vocals of Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner of chart-topping Ohio Players.In 1990, Bootsy collaborated with Deee-Lite on their massive hit “Groove Is in the Heart” where he contributed additional vocals. Although he also appeared in the music video playing the bass, the bassline in the song is actually a sample of a Herbie Hancocksong called “Bring Down the Birds”.
Bootsy’s Rubber Band appeared with Deee-Lite during a world tour and also recorded the EP “Jungle Bass”, their first recording in 11 years. In 1992, Bootsy joined with guitarist Stevie Salas and drummer Buddy Miles to form the funk-metal fusion group Hardware and released the album, Third Eye Open, before disbanding.Bootsy collaborated with bluegrass legends Del McCoury, Doc Watson and Mac Wiseman to form the GrooveGrass Boyz, playing a fusion of bluegrass and funk.In 1994, Bootsy contributed extensively to the Soup Dragons’ last album, Hydroponic.Bootsy’s New Rubber Band then released “Blasters of the Universe”.In 1995, Bootsy played in the remake of Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9,” for Axiom Funk, a Funkadelic-like one-off supergroup produced by Bill Laswell and featuring (Funkadelic members) George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, (the guitar of the late) Eddie Hazel, Gary Shider and Bill Laswell. The group released only one album, and one song which appeared in the soundtrack of the movie Stealing Beauty. Bootsy’s New Rubber Band released “Keepin’ dah Funk Alive 4-1995″, recorded over two nights in Tokyo.In 1996, Bootsy collaborated on George Clinton’s album “The Awesome Power Of A Fully Operational Mothership”.
In 2000 Bootsy Collins appeared at “Heineken’s Amsterjam 2005″ alongside Madonna, Iggy Pop, Little Richard, and The Roots’ Questlove, in an American TV commercial. Bootsy also collaborated with Bill Laswell and sang on two Fatboy Slim records, as well as reading a poem at the end of FatBoy Slims’s release in the LateNightTales DJ mix series. Bootsy also sang on the TobyMac album Welcome to Diverse City and appears on Nicole C. Mullens’ latest album, Everyday People. He has also worked with the Lo-Fidelity Allstars on the album Don’t be Afraid of Love, with Praxis, and with Buckethead on several occasions, Bootsy was featured in the 2002 film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. In 2004 he appeared on Snoop Dogg’s Rhythm & Gangsta album and on the cover of “The Joker” on the Fatboy Slim album Palookaville. He also performed a cover of the “Power of Soul” on the 2004 tribute album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix’. In 2005, Collins co-wrote a song celebrating this hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals called “Fear Da Tiger” which features several Bengals players and The music video features cameos by many other Bengals players.
Collins also appeared with Little Richard, Bernie Worrell as the band playing with Hank Williams, Jr. during for the 2006 season. He also sings “Marshal Law”, the theme song of the Cincinnati Marshals indoor football team. In 2006, a DVD/CD was released of Bootsy Collins and the New Rubber Band’s concert at the 1998 North Sea Jazz Festival. In 1998 Bootsy released the holiday album “Christmas Is 4 Ever” which features funky re-workings of Christmas standards as well as original compositions. In 2006, Collins recorded music for the animated television series Loonatics Unleashed and also voiced the character Bootes Belinda. between 2008 and 2010 Bootsy opened a restaurant/club with restaurateur Jeff Ruby called “Bootsy’s.” Which featured live musical acts, a museum dedicated to Bootsy’s musical career and Spanish, Central and South American cuisine. In 2007 Bootsy Collins, along with Phelps Collins, Clyde Stubblefield, John “Jabo” Starks, and Bernie Worrell, also participated in the recording of the soundtrack for the movie Superbad and performed at the first tribute concert remembering James Brown.
In 2008 The album Living On Another Frequency, was released featuring guitarist Buckethead and drummer Brain.Collins promoted Rock the Vote for its 2008 campaign together with Buckethead.Bootsy also produced Junkyard Waltz by Freekbass. His influence in popular culture is seen in a number of television series. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode “Sooooooul Train”, Geoffrey sneaks into the Soul Train tapings posing as Bootsy Collins, while in The Mighty Boosh episode “The Legend of Old Gregg” an alien creature named ‘The Funk’ lands on Bootsy’s house, giving him his ability to play the bass guitar “like some kinda delirious funky priest”. His song I’d Rather Be With You, from the album Stretchin’ Out In Bootsy’s Rubber Band was featured in the movie Baby Boy i. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, cited Collins as one of his primary influences, & appeared in unmistakably Bootsy-esque clothing in the video for RHCP’s “Dani California”, and Bootsy’s “What’s a Telephone Bill?” was sampled for 2Pac’s “Str8 Ballin’” track off the THUG LIFE album. In 2009 Collins collaborated with Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek on the track “Internet Connection” and in October 2010 Bootsy was awarded a Bass Player Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011 Bootsy and his wife visited Franklin L. Williams M.S #7’s Little Kids Rock program and he also appeared on Later… with Jools Holland, performing a memorable snippet of funk with Jools. Collins also performed at the 10th Annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TEnnassee.