While not an original architect of da Funk, keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell is down as an indispensable member of the construction crew. As a wee lad, he performed with symphony orchestras, composing a piano concerto at the ripe age of eight. But -- here's where it all changed -- young Bernie listened to the radio when the funk bug bit.
Worrell -- who knew George Clinton as a youth back in New Jersey -- joined the Parliament/Funkadelic R&B-meets-psychedelia posse after its inception and soon became one of its central members. He flourished in his star-studded glasses until the early '80s, when another pioneering ensemble beckoned: Talking Heads. Since, he's played on more platters than you've had hot breakfasts, from rock icons Jack Bruce and Keith Richards to Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti and cutting-edge types Mike Watt and Bill Laswell. Yet Worrell has managed to find time to do his own thing from time to time -- intrepid souls should pursue his currently out-of-print Funk of Ages set, wherein Richards, David Byrne, and Herbie Hancock back him. Word.