Parliament-Funkadelic co-founder Calvin Simon has died at the age of 79. His former bandmates Bootsy Collins and George Clinton announced the news on social media.
“We lost another Original member of Parliament/Funkadelic,” Collins wrote on Instagram. “A friend, bandmate & a cool classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former member of Parliament/Funkadelic. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen members of P-Funk! R.I.P”
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“Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon,” Clinton wrote on Facebook. “Longtime Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist. Fly on Calvin”
Simon was born in Beckley, West Virginia in 1942, and grew up singing in a church choir for weekly radio broadcasts. His family eventually moved to New Jersey, and at age 13 Simon took a job as a barber. Soon after he befriended fellow barbers Clinton and Grady Thomas, as well as customers Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins. In 1955, they formed a doo-wop barbershop quintet called the Parliaments.
As the band grew and began exploring other genres like R&B and funk, Simon contributed as a singer. He’s featured on some of Parliament’s most iconic albums like Mothership Connection and Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome as well as Funkadelic albums Maggot Brain and Cosmic Slop.
Simon, Thomas and Haskins left the group in 1977 following disputes over finances and the number of new members joining the collective. In 1980, they released Connections & Disconnections under the Funkadelic name. They also used the moniker Original P for 1998’s What Dat Shakin’ and 2001’s Original P Introducing the Westbound Souljaz. Simon went on to pursue a career in gospel music and released his debut solo album Share the News. That project was followed by 2016’s It’s Not Too Late and 2018’s I Believe.
Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, along with more than a dozen members of Parliament-Funkadelic.