I interviewed Mike Finnigan from Crooks and Liars about six month ago. Mike is a great piano/Hammond B-3 organ player and we talked about Miles Davis and the 50th anniversary of Kind Of Blue. After that interview, I asked Mike if we could chat about some other aspects of music. He was very agreeable. Unfortunately, when I decided to do a show on the origins of Funk, Mike was busy. He told me he was touring with Joe Cocker!!! He said that he had a friend in Texas, a bass player who would be perfect. Mike was right. Larry Fulcher was/is perfect. Larry has recorded with Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton and the Crusaders, just to name of few. He has won two Grammys playing with Taj Mahal.
We begin the show by talking about the death of Michael Jackson and how very important he was to the music business. Michael was truly loved world-wide. We then begin talking about Funk. Funk is all about the bass and the drums. Everything started with James Brown. I play “Livin’ in America,” “Sex Machine” and “Cold Sweat” as examples of James’ music. Sly and the Family Stone is next up. Sly’s bassist was a man named Larry Graham. Graham, like many of the bassists whom we talk about, came out of gospel music. Wanting more of a percussive sound, he began playing the bass with his thumb since there was no drummer. Larry did form his own group called Graham Central Station. I play a tune called “Hair” that has one of the best bass lines I have ever heard. We then go back to James Brown and talk about Bootsy Collins who started playing with James Brown when he was just a teenager. Bootsy Collins became the sound that was Parliament, the group that is most associated with Funk. (!) Part one ends with the Ohio Players and their tune “Skin Tight.”
This is a great interview. This is part one and part 2.
Update: Part 2 of my interview – Larry Fulcher discusses how governments need to work on how to bring people together and not breaking us apart. We then talk about George Clinton and Parliament, Funkadelic. I play “Theme from the Black Hole” and “Dr. Funkenstein” from Parliament and “One Nation under a Groove” from Funkadelic. We end up coming full circle in this conservation. We started by talking about how gospel music drove Funk in the early days. Now, to find Funk we went back to Gospel music. Kirk Franklin – Stomp and Sounds of Blackness – Testify. I mention how the bass line is being played by the synthesizer and Larry adds Stevie Wonder‘s great hit Livin’ for the City as probably the first tune that was really driven by synthesizer. Larry Fulcher leaves us with some words of wisdom about music and its lasting value. George Duke takes us home with “Reach for it.”