The WOO Chronicles: More than Meets the Casual Ear

Here’s something casual music fans don’t know: Bernie Worrell appeared on at least 500 recordings during his career.

Sure, everyone knows about his impact in the funk/R&B world. Mention Parliament/Funkadelic, and people in the know light right up, practically dancing in place. For casual fans, the knowledge ends there.

Slightly more hip fans will tell you about Bernie’s stint with Talking Heads or about his band, The WOO Warriors. Really hip fans will bring up bands like Praxis or Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. They might even mention collaborations with Bill Laswell. And that’s all well and good.

But they’re only scratching the surface.

Five. Hundred. Recordings.

Will I get to hear everything? Probably not. But I’ll make the largest dent possible. Because rock and funk are also just the tip of a very large iceberg. As Judie loves to point out, Bernie entered the musical world as a child prodigy playing classical music. He was also highly adept at jazz, blues, reggae, “world” music, and countless hybrids therein.

This is how genius works. It doesn’t remain stationary. It makes its way into as many nooks and crannies as possible. And I get the honor of following all the bread crumb trails.

I expect to have my eyes opened widely more than a few times during my research. Realizing how many places already existed within my collection elicited both wonder and joyous laughter. Lord knows it opened the door to the possibility of interviews with musicians I’ve never dreamed of talking to. Assuming I can get through their managers and agents. Hopefully, Judie’s name still swings a heavy bat. Mine sure as hell doesn’t.

Expect the unexpected. That’s advice to both myself and you. There will be more than a few twists and turns. I’m thinking most of them will be a lot of fun to discover.


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My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

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