Bernie Worrell, one of the greatest and most influential keyboard players of the past 40-plus years and a pillar of the legendary Parliament Funkadelic, has been diagnosed with two types of cancer. His wife Judie Worrell revealed on her Facebook page and confirmed to theAsbury Park Press that one of the diagnoses is stage 4 liver cancer.
“Bernie was first diagnosed with prostate cancer but a mild form and the doctors said men can live with that 20 to 30 years,” his wife wrote to the paper in an email. “Then tests showed 4th stage liver cancer that has metastasized to his liver and the pleural cavities.” According to her Facebook post, the Worrell has rejected chemotherapy but is hoping to raise money for the 71-year-old’s naturopathic treatment and is “investigating various options.” He and his wife have also launched an Indiegogo campaign, which as of press time has been 63 percent funded, to try to raise $10,000 for the release of the keyboardist’s final album, the already-completed Retrospectives.
Born in New Jersey, the multi-talented musician linked up with George Clinton and his traveling band of groove-peddling space cadets in the late 1960s, contributing to Funkadelic’s self-titled first LP in 1970 before joining the band full time, handling keys for each of the group’s subsequent 10 albums. At the same time, he became the keyboarding wizard in the most iconic iteration of sister band Parliament through the 1970s, penning funk classics like “Chocolate City,” “P Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” “Mothership Connection” and “Dr. Funkenstein” alongside Clinton and bassist Bootsy Collins. He’s also responsible for the wobbly bass line in Parliament’s “Flash Light,” commonly credited to Collins but actually crafted by Worrell on three Minimoog synths.
Later in his career, Worrell dabbled in funk-inspired solo projects before signing on as a semi-regular — though not official — member of the Talking Heads throughout the 1980s. In 1997, Worrell, Clinton, Collins and 13 additional members of the Parliament Funkadelic family were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame by none other than Prince.
The Indiegogo campaign for Retrospective — composed of 13 new and original songs — runs for another 16 days.