Bootzilla – The King of Bass!

When I say Funk, people think of George Clinton, and James Brown. But what does the James Brown Funk have in common with the George Clinton P-Funk? What both of these people have in common is William “Bootsy” Collins. Known for his charismatic style, Bootsy single handedly Put the Bass on top of the Funk, and become the world’s first superstar bass player. What is even more amazing is that when you follow Bootsy, you will find that he has been an influential part of every major movement in Funk and the Hip Hop of today.

In 1970, at age 18, he became part of James Brown’s Band as one of the “Original JB’s”. The Godfather of Soul and Grand Parishioner of Funk, taught Bootsy all about the one and passed his mantle to Bootsy. Bootsy became the new Father of the Funk. Bootsy, transformed the James Brown sound from its southern RNB roots to a more modern and urban sound. Bootsy played the bass on the following hit James Brown Classic Songs:

  • Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine
  • Super Bad
  • Soul Power
  • Talking Loud and Saying Nothing
  • The Grunt



In 1971, Bootsy left James Brown. He and his brother, Catfish, formed a new group called “House Guest”. Now his bass technique was polished and refined. On their single “What so never the dance”, you can hear that the Bass moved beyond the James B steady groove. The Bass became more melodic, and took a very dominant position in the track.



In 1972, Malia Franklin introduced Bootsy to George Clinton. George immediately recognized Bootsy’s musical genius. He made Bootsy a part of Parliament Funkadelic, and gave Bootsy free reign to play and write as he pleases. Prior to Bootsy, Parliament was a Motown sounding doo-wop group. According to synthesizer legend Bernie Worrell “Bootsy interjected his style and helped create another style of P-Funk”. Bootzilla was born, and Parliament flew to stardom. The bass became the defining and dominate sound of funk. Bootsy added a secret arsenal of effect pedals to make his bass sound “spacey” and out of this world. He turned Funk lovers everywhere into Bass fanatics. Bootsy also wrote songs, and was know for his unique style of singing and rapping. He also played the guitar, the drums, and percussion on many of the songs. He played the drums on the hit song, Flashlight.  Bootsy helped make the following hit and classic Parliament Funkadelic Songs (and many more):

  • Chocolate City
  • Up For The Down Stroke
  • Let’s Take It To The Stage
  • One Nation Under A Grove
  • Flash Light
  • (Not Just) Knee Deep
  • Aqua Boogie
  • Ride On
  • P Funk
  • Night of the Thumpasorous Peoples.
  • Rumpofsteelskin

In 1976 Bootsy released his own solo album in conjunction with Parliament Funkadelic. He star power went off of the charts. He packed concerts, and Parliament had to open for him. These albums pioneered the Funk Love Song. He made the following essential funk classics:

  • I’d Rather Be with You
  • Ahh..The Name Is Bootsy, Baby
  • What’s A Telephone Bill?
  • Munchies For Your Love



In 1980, another major sound in Funk dropped. Zapp and Roger Troutman released “More Bounce To The Once.” The major feature of this album was the synth bass, the electro clap, and the talk box vocals (pre auto tune t-pain effect.) Bootsy produced this legendary song, and he also played guitar on the Zapp album.


Now if you take all of these songs that I have listed (and several of the ones that I didn’t list,) you will find that every single Bootsy song has been sampled, interpolated, or covered by a rap group. Some of them are used multiple times. So not only did he help shape the sound of 70’s Funk and 80’s Funk, but he helped shape the sound of hip hop in the 80’s, the 90’s, and the 2000’s. Bootsy appeared on Snoop Dog’s Rhythm and Gangsta Album. Snoop Dogg himself stated, “If there was no Bootsy Collins, there would be no Snoop Dogg.”

This is a spotify playlist of popular songs that Bootsy has produced, written or performed on:


As a hip hop producer, and child of the Funk, I think Bootsy should be studied as an influential founding father of our music. His life story is inspiring. He started with nothing; he made his first bass by restringing a guitar. That is determination. He put himself in a position to be seen by hanging out side of the door of a recording studio. When James Brown found him, he was ready and prepared to perform. He took advantage of the opportunity to study and learn from James Brown.  That is excellence. Then when he had the opportunity to shine, he made his stage presence huge. He clearly defined a unique image for himself, and marketed that image. If you watch his live performance, you can see his charisma, and the way that he worked the crowd. He is a guru. The study of his playing is a musical lineage that passed from father (James Brown) to son (Bootsy Collins). Then as a musician, there is the question of drug use, and he even has a lesson to learn from that. He tells of his increasing addiction, and then when it almost destroyed him, he was able to stop cold turkey, and now lives drug free. He now spends his time doing community work, and helping people. That’s enlightenment. Bootsy is a musical superman.


Today he continues to influence bass players all over the world. There is not a bass player who does not know of him or that hasn’t tried to emulate his sound. Most modern bass masters recognize him as a teacher and influence. In 2010, Bootsy established a bass school called “Funk U”. It is based online (, and only cost $29.99 a month.  With this Bootsy also has an influence on the new generation of bass players.


Here are some pictures from the time I spent with Bootsy:

Bootsy and Nomad



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  1. Bootzilla Reference Page | - [...] video, but this is great live version of flashlight: Go To Article [...]

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