Monday, August 27, 2012

Bernie Worrell Orchestra

Center-Legend Bernie Worrell
On Friday August 17, our awesome local independent record store, Record Archive hosted an in-store performance by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, Bernie Worrell.  When I first saw the event listed I remembered back to my college days when I went through my Talking Heads phase.  I had a distant memory of Bernie Worrell from the movie "Stop Making Sense."  Bernie is introduced by David Byrne at about the 4:48 mark in this videoclip.

This led me on a musical journey.  I did a bit more research to find out Bernie's inclusion in the Hall of Fame is for his work with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.  I saw P-Funk around 2006 at the House of Blues in Anaheim  California.  This show continues to be one of the strangest shows I've ever seen.  It's not everyday you get to see grown men in diapers on stage.  George himself made a very limited appearance and to my recollection, Bernie was not part of the band.

Upon further investigation, I found Bernie's story was told in a documentary available on Netflix (trailer) titled "Stranger-Bernie Worrell on Earth."  Bernie's influence is unprecedented.  A child prodigy whose work with the Moog synthesizer was both controversial and ground-breaking.  Bernie's description of his work and how it relates to sex and the spirit was recorded in another documentary simply titled "Moog," a 2004 film about Bob Moog's electronic musical inventions.

My last stop on this journey was a listen to DJ Logic's Global Noize release featuring tracks that included Bernie.  Once you know Bernie's sound, you realize his contributions are undeniable.  Dr. Dre is another artist to have been influenced by Bernie.  I haven't yet taken my journey down that road.  If you know of specific tracks that might link Bernie to Dr. Dre, please comment.

Bernie Worrell is a genius.  What is sad about his story is that so few know about Bernie's influence.  Sadly, some have said that Bernie's greatness will only be appreciated when he has long gone.  Bernie never concerned himself with the commercial side of the music business.  Bernie never benefited from a PR machine.  I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to see Bernie is such intimate quarters.  See Bernie heating up in the clip I recorded below, then take a listen to the Spotify playlist.


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