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My Interview with Bootsy Collins by Gary Johnson

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Publisher Note:  For those of you who don’t know about the legend of Bootsy Collins, allow me to introduce him to you.  In May 2004, I was working late in my office one night.  It was getting close to midnight and I decided to end the day.  As I was getting ready to lock up, I heard the phone ring.  I thought, who would be calling the office this late at night.  I listened more closely and determined it was the fax machine.  I looked at the papers in the tray.  The papers were from Bootsy Collins trying to fax me some information about his new CD.  I decided not to call him back and just went home.  I contacted his agent the next morning only to be told, “Bootsy doesn’t “do computers.”  LOL!  That’s old school.

Bootsy Collins is one of the all-time great funk and R&B bassists/singer/bandleader. From 1969 to 1971, the group functioned as James Brown’s backup band and was dubbed the J.B.’s.  In 1972, Bootsy joined George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic. Collins and Clinton soon established a lifelong personal and musical friendship. He launched Bootsy’s Rubber Band as a spinoff of P-Funk in 1976. Collins’ inspired, clever progressions and patterns were a vital part of such records as “Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine.”  Today, a whole new generation of music fans have embraced Bootsy’s legacy.

Below is my exclusive original interview with Bootsy Collins conducted in July 2004 and posted on Black Men In America.com

“Bootsy Collins Is Back”

What 53-year old man carries a “space bass,” wears star shaped sunglasses, steps out in Nike shoes and shouts “Glory Be The Funk’s On Me?”  That’s right, the one and only Bootsy Collins!

We received and reviewed a copy of the new Bootsy Collins CD “Play With Bootsy.”  This is Collins’ first CD in six years.  (The CD will be released to the public on June 8th).  Bootsy proves that he is still the Chief Funkateer on this eclectic collection of music.  Collins, who recently signed with Thump Records has a wide range of collaborators on this set, his first CD in six years.

If you like funk, you’ll love this new CD.  This set has something for everyone.  With a blend of funk, reggae, R&B and even mellow-smooth jazz, Bootsy has put together a mighty fine collection of music featuring such artists as Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Macy Gray, Fat Boy Slim, Bobby Womack, Miss Kier and Rosie Gaines.

Collin’s legacy spans the last three decades, with his earliest efforts beginning at age 17 when he recorded “Sex Machine” with James Brown.  At age 53, Bootsy is best known as the leader of the funk group Bootsy’s Rubber Band and for his participation in the celebrated band, the Funkadelics and the Mothership Connection.  He toured with DeeeLite in the 90’s and later was embraced by the hip-hop generation, appearing in numerous rap videos, with his beats being heavily sampled over the past decade.  His reemergence back on the scene is testimony to his pervasive star power and magnetism.

With the recent signing of Collins to Thump Records, the label is positioning itself with a strong power base.  Collins joins label mates Lakeside, Midnight Star, Michael Cooper, Val Watson (female lead vocalist – Club Nouveau) and Club Nouveau.  For additional information and offerings from Thump Records, go to www.ThumpRecords.com.

Check back frequently, we hope to bring you more information on Bootsy Collins and other “Old Schoolers” who are still getting it done.

BMIA.com:  How does your new CD “Play with Bootsy” compare to your earlier work? 

Bootsy:  My back-in-the-day work was all done at the P-Funk Lab in Detroit, along with George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic, and Bootsy’s Rubber Band.  Our technique for recording was to walk in, rehearse a bit, and hit it.  The new CD was done in a few different studios, including Bootzilla Rehab-P-Form School of Fine Art-tro-nuts, along with lots of appearances from yesterday’s and today’s finest artists.  The technique is a lot different.  By using pro-tools and analog, we were able to mail order parts for songs which was kind of fun.

BMIA.com:  You have a lot of different artists on “Play With Bootsy,” most notably Snoop Dogg.  How did you and Snoop meet?

Bootsy: Snoop and I first met when I was with Color Me Badd and we were performing at Soul Train.  He is so much like me that I couldn’t believe it.  Of course I have settled down quite a bit since, but yeah, that’s my nephew Snoop.

BMIA.com:  What have you been doing for the past 6 years?

Bootsy:  I’ve been doing lots of behind-the-scenes projects such as video games, film scoring, Pontiac and Nike commercials and guest appearances on CDs of a number of today’s artists.  My touring has not been in my plans because we are trying to open new doors so I can do what I really want to do, and that is to be the backbone, manager, and adviser for some new and upcoming stars.  I love to see the twinkle in their eyes; it reminds me of how badly I wanted it.

BMIA.com:  Most folks know about your history playing with the James Brown Band at age 15.  You’ve been in the music business for over 3 decades.  Did you think you would last this long?

Bootsy:  All I was thinking about was the actual musical ideas that were flooding my mind at the time.  Tomorrow never meant anything to me – it was all about how much music and fun I can do today.

BMIA.com:  When you were growing up, who were the artists that influenced you the most?

Bootsy:  Sly Stone, James Brown Band, James Jamerson, bass player for Motown, and my hero, Jimi Hendrix.

BMIA.com:  Growing up what was your earliest or most vivid recollection of being different?

Bootsy:  When I had to wear whatever my mom got from the Goodwill store, Salvation Army, you know the kids would laugh at me.  I felt bad at first, but then I turned it into something creative by mixing and matching colors and going for being different.  Then I was more of an artist in school, so I would sit around and read comic books, draw stick men with star glasses – pretty deep for a kid in those days.

BMIA.com:  When you think about some of the artists of today’s generation, who do you listen to and like the most?  Why?

Bootsy: OutKast and The Roots, because they push the envelope and suffer the consequences and remain standing.  That’s how we did it.

BMIA.com:  What’s a typical day for Bootsy?

Bootsy:  I start off meditating and being thankful for another day to go out and make a difference in somebody’s life.  Then I exercise to keep the holy temple that God gave me in the best shape I can.  You know that in the day I abused everything, so now I’m cleaning up my temple that has been loaned to me.  Then I go to work for the Funk of it, or do something special with my son.  Then I might give a speech at the drug rehab programs in my town, or a youth meeting, interviews, etc.

BMIA.com:  You hung around a lot of folks that fell victim to drugs and alcohol.  How did you manage to survive?

Bootsy:  I looked, learned, and listened real hard as I was partying and started to see my friends dying and crying, getting burned for all they had, and I had a few things happen to me that helped turn my life around.  I had everything but the spirit of God, so I finally realized that’s what I needed more than drugs.

BMIA.com:  Tell us something interesting or that we don’t know about:  James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone.

Bootsy:  They all hurt, they all bleed, they all are more sensitive than the average humanoid, and they all are living on another frequency.  There you have it from the horse’s mouth, I think.

BMIA.com:  What advice would you give for someone who wants to make in the music business?

Bootsy:  The first thing is to practice and develop your talent and skills without ceasing.  Then try to find doors to get into so people can hear and see you perform.  Seeing you is very, very important because that is part of the body language that connects the art to the one as a whole.  Stay focused on what you love and enjoy doing – then just “P”-yo-self.

A special thanks to Makeda Smith at Jazzmyne Public Relations.

UpdateIn January 2019, Collins announced on Facebook that he would be retiring from live performances for health reasons.  He wrote the following”

“Time has come for Me to tell all our Funkateers that I will Not be Playing Bass in Concerts anymore. I have decided to become a Coach for up & coming Musicians. I know u r Disappointed just think for a moment how I feel. Doc said to much pressure on my Inner-Ear & Right Hand. Yeah, I had to make up my Mind, so I did. 2019 Sheriff Ping Ping Ping will continue to Funk from the Studio but Not Live playing Bass on Stage. I know u got question & I don’t have answers, maybe one day u to will understand. Just remember; That This Year will be the Funkiest Year of them All. Watch for it. Bootsy baby!!!”

Bootsy Collins was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1997 with 15 other members of the funk group Parliament-Funkadelic.  You can learn more about Bootsy Collins by visiting his official website at The Boot Cave.com.

This is a great interview of funk history with Bootsy from two years ago with the Red Bull Music Academy.  Bootsy talks about the music business, drugs, life on the road, how he was discovered by James Brown and working with such artists George Clinton, Parliment-Funkadelic, The Spinners, Bobby Byrd, Lyn Collins, The JB’s and more.

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