Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Calvin Simon Dies at 79

Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Calvin Simon Dies at 79

According to bandmates George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, one of the founders of Parliament-Funkadelic , Calvin Simon, 79, died on Thursday.

“We lost another original member of Parliament/Funkadelic. A friend, bandmate & a cool classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former member of Parliament/Funkadelic,” Collins posted on Instagram

“Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon, longtime Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist. Fly on Calvin!” Clinton posted on Facebook

Simon was born in Beckley, West Virginia, in 1942 and grew up singing in the church choir that broadcasted weekly on the radio. His family moved to New Jersey, and he worked as a barber when he was 13 years old. He quickly developed a friendship with fellow barbers Clinton and Grady Thomas and customers Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins. The young men created the Parliaments, a doo-wop barbershop quintet.  

As Parliament evolved, they incorporated other genres like R&B, acid rock, and funk into their musical stylings. As a band member, Simon lent his vocals to the group. He is featured on Parliament classics like Mothership Connection and  Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome and Funkadelic albums Maggot Brain and Cosmic Slop

In time, he would leave the group in 1977 following disputes over financial and management clashes. In 1997, Simon and other members of the Parliament-Funkadelic were admitted by Prince into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1996, Simon was drafted by the US Army and deployed to Vietnam.

“The thing that means the most to me is how I handled the PTSD from my service in the Vietnam War,” he wrote in a statement. “I was able to keep the genie in the bottle, so to speak, and did not allow the evil thoughts to break through and manifest into actions. Instead, I found my faith and relied on the higher power to see me through.”

After he departed from the group, Simon collaborated with Haskins and Thomas to record music under several trade names. The Funkadelics presented 1981’s Connections & Disconnections, and the Original P dropped the 1998’s What Dat Shakin’ and 2001’s Original P Introducing the Westbound Souljaz

Simon also pursued a solo career in gospel music, releasing his debut Share the News in 2004 on his Simon Sayz label while diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He released two other gospel records, 2016’s It’s Not Too Late, and 2018’s I Believe, Billboard reports