Friday, August 6, 2010

Phelps "Catfish" Collins loses battle with cancer at 66

It's been a rough year for P-Funk. Less than two months ago, Garry "Starchild" Shider passed on. And today Uncle Jam's Army lost another one of its funkiest soldiers; rhythm guitarist extraordinaire Phelps "Catfish" Collins died from cancer at the age of 66. Catfish contributed his nasty rhythm licks to some of the most legendary funk cuts ever recorded. He was a member of the P-Funk collective when it was at the peak of its powers and creativity. Catfish was also an integral part of Bootsy's Rubber Band, a P-Funk offshoot centered around the virtuoso bass-playing talents of his charismatic younger brother Bootsy. Additionally, he and Bootsy were members of the original lineup of the J.B.'s, one of James Brown's tightest and funkiest bands.

Catfish was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He and brother Bootsy formed a funk band called the Pacemakers in 1968. The band also featured Frankie "Kash" Waddy on drums and late R&B vocalist Philippé Wynne. In late 1969, the Pacemakers were hired on as James Brown's rhythm section after most of his band quit following pay disputes. The band came to be known as the J.B.'s and played on some of The Godfather's most iconic funk cuts, including "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," "Super Bad" and "Soul Power." The band was pivotal in helping Brown further shape his raw, groove-heavy sound at the outset of the new decade.

The Collins brothers, along with Waddy and Wynne, left the J.B.'s in 1971. Wynne joined the famed R&B group the Spinners and went on to achieve much acclaim as their lead singer, while Catfish and Bootsy formed the short-lived funk band known as the House Guests, which included Waddy on drums. The following year, the two brothers and Waddy joined Parliament/Funkadelic and played on Funkadelic's fourth studio album America Eats Its Young. One of Catfish's most notable contributions to P-Funk was his sublimely funky guitar work on Parliament's classic dance cut "Flash Light."

In 1976, Bootsy formed Bootsy's Rubber Band. The band consisted of Catfish, Waddy, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper (vocals), Robert "P-Nut" Johnson (vocals), Joel "Razor Sharp" Johnson (keyboards), and the Horny Horns, which included Rick Gardner (trumpet) as well as funk horn legends Fred Wesley (trombone) and Maceo Parker (saxophone). Catfish helped co-write the songs "Psychoticbumpschool" and "Another Point of View" on the band's debut album Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band.

Catfish has also played on records by Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb. His contributions to funk music were immense and will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Catfish.

Here's a clip of Catfish displaying his funky guitar-playing chops as a member of the J.B.'s:

No comments: