Keyboardist Bernie Worrell, songwriter and synthesizer who served as co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic and a key Talking Heads collaborator, died on Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 72. Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, news of Worrell’s demise was announced via his Facebook page, reports a website.
Keyboardist Bernie Worrell
Worell was the guest of honour at a benefit concert last April, with the likes of George Clinton, Questlove, David Byrne and Meryl Streep performing and paying tribute. In mid-June, his wife Judie Worrell announced that Worell’s health had taken a turn for the worse.
Born in New Jersey, Worrell began playing piano at age three, and performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at 10. He attended Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, and met up George Clinton while playing in bar bands. He followed Clinton to Detroit, where Funkadelic rewrote the rules of black popular music several times over throughout the 1970s.