William Earl “Bootsy” Collins is a legendary musician, songwriter, and producer who has left an indelible mark on the funk genre. Born on October 26, 1951, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Collins began his music career as a teenager and quickly rose to prominence as a bassist for James Brown’s band. He later became a member of Parliament-Funkadelic and formed his own band, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, in the 1970s. With his innovative bass lines, flamboyant stage presence, and catchy hooks, Collins helped define the sound of funk and influenced generations of musicians.
Collins’ early years were marked by his love of music and his desire to play the bass guitar. He started playing in local bands in Cincinnati and caught the attention of James Brown, who was impressed with his skills. Collins joined Brown’s band in 1969 and played on several of his hit records, including “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “Super Bad.” Collins’ unique style of playing, which combined rhythm and melody in a way that had never been heard before, made him a standout in Brown’s band and earned him the nickname “Bootsy.”
In the early 1970s, Collins joined George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic collective, which was known for its eclectic mix of funk, rock, and psychedelic music. Collins’ bass playing was a key element of the group’s sound, and he contributed to several of their classic albums, including “Mothership Connection” and “One Nation Under a Groove.” In 1976, Collins formed his own band, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, which featured several members of Parliament-Funkadelic. The band’s debut album, “Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band,” was a critical and commercial success and featured the hit single “I’d Rather Be With You.”
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Collins continued to release solo albums and collaborate with other musicians. He worked with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, and Deee-Lite, and produced albums for acts like Fatboy Slim and Buckethead. Collins’ influence on funk music was immense, and his innovative bass playing inspired countless musicians in genres ranging from rock to hip-hop.
In addition to his music career, Collins has also been involved in various philanthropic efforts. He founded the Bootsy Collins Foundation, which provides music education and resources to underprivileged children. He has also been an advocate for animal rights and has worked with organizations such as PETA to raise awareness about animal cruelty.
Today, at age 69, Collins continues to perform and record music. He remains an icon of funk music and a pioneer of the bass guitar. His legacy is one of innovation, creativity, and a commitment to using music as a force for good.