Bernie Worrell, keyboardist for Parliament/Funkadelic and the Talking Heads, passed away yesterday at the age of 72.
In a post on Facebook, Worrell’s wife, Judie, posted “Bernie transitioned Home to The Great Spirit. Rest in peace, my love — you definitely made the world a better place. Till we meet again, vaya con Dios.” This news came nearly six months following her announcement of his stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis.
Born G. Bernard Worrell, Jr. in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1944 and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, Worrell began taking piano lessons at age three and wrote his first concerto at eight. He studied at the Juilliard School and went on to receive a degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1967. The school awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in May.
Worrell, also known as the “Wizard of Woo,” was best known for his work with Parliament/Funkadelic, to which he is credited with giving the futuristic sound through the expert use of the Moog synthesizer. As one of the longest standing members of the band, he was among the 15 members inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He became a de facto member of the Talking Heads through much of the ’80s, appearing on their studio album Speaking in Tongues and the much-heralded live album and concert film Stop Making Sense. More recently, he had formed the Bernie Worrell Orchestra, which featured a rotating lineup of musicians performing originals and songs from his past work with Parliament/Funkadelic and the Talking Heads.