You Say It's Your Birthday: Bootsy Collins

Legendary funk bassist William "Bootsy" Collins was born 46 years ago today

in Cincinnati, Ohio. Collins is instantly recognizeable by his outlandish

clothes and fun-loving attitude but should be best remembered as the man

who played bass during the most prolific periods for funk-miesters James

Brown and George Clinton. Collins got his start as a teenager, playing as

session musician for Cincinnati's King Records and with his own band named

the Pacemakers, which included his brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins on

guitar. James Brown recruited the Pacemakers to join his back-up band in

1969, a move which allowed the brothers to add their distinctive jumpy

guitar and popping bass sounds to the emerging music style which would

become known as funk. The brothers split with Brown two years later and

Bootsy soon found himself playing with George Clinton.

Collins was an intergral part of P-Funk during the late '70s, playing on

most of their albums and co-writing much of the lyrics and music. In fact,

when Clinton signed with Warner Bros. in 1976, a solo contract for Collins

was a major part of the deal. Collins formed Bootsy's Rubber Band in 1976,

a razor sharp funk outfit that included his brother on guitar, former

Pacemakers drummer Frankie "Kash" Waddy and the horn section from James

Brown's band. The band went through a litanty of keyboard players and

back-up singers, soon finding its members interchangeable with the players

in P-Funk. The two bands sounded very similar, but Bootsy's playful

lyrics and characters appealed more to children, whereas Clinton's sexual jams

were definitely tailored more for an adult audience. All of his albums hit big on

the R&B charts, with 1977's Ahh. . .the Name is Bootsy, Baby! going gold

and 1978's Bootsy? Player Of The Year hitting #1. In addition to his

own output, Bootsy served as producer for such acts as Johnnie Taylor and

Zapp and the Sweat Band. After the release of 1982's The One Giveth and

the Count Taketh Away, Collins disappeared from the music scene for a

number of years, though he played here and there with such artists as Keith

Richards, the Last Poets and Buddy Miles. He came back in 1988 with

What's Bootsy Doin'? and appeared on Dee-Lite's "Groove Is In The

Heart" in 1990. When rap music started sampling the Bootsy/P-Funk catalog

in the early '90s, Collins saw a career rebirth with his albums being

re-released on CD and the occasional reunion with his old P-Funk buddies.

Other birthdays: Keith Hopwood (Herman's Hermits), 57; Maggie Roche (The

Roches), 46 and Keith Strickland (B-52's), 44.