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Funkadelic’s Junie Morrison Dies

Columbia Records
Columbia Records

Walter “Junie” Morrison, whose original composition formed the basis for Funkadelic‘s legendary 1978 song “One Nation Under a Groove,” died on Jan. 21 at age 62. The news was confirmed today by his daughter Akasha on Morrison’s official Facebook page.

“Okay, enough is enough,” long-time Parliament-Funkadelic member Bootsy Collins said today. “Somebody tell me this ain’t so. In case it is, we have lost another frequency in the harmonic chain of musical events and precious memories.”

Though Funkadelic were always infused with a distinctive rock attitude, their 1979 long-form jam “(Not Just) Knee Deep” – also co-created by Morrison – served as a major inspiration for hip-hop. Before he started performing with George Clinton, Morrison helped the Ohio Players score hits with “The Funky Worm” and “Ecstasy.”

Born in Dayton, Ohio, the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, producer and arranger released a number of albums on his own, including the career-capping When the City in 2014. But Morrison’s connection with Funkadelic was never really broken. After his principal collaborative years within the Parliament-Funkadelic organization between 1978-81, he continued to sit in with band leader Clinton – who reportedly called Morrison “the most phenomenal musician on the planet” – and also with the P-Funk All-Stars.

This lengthy association, which led to Morrison’s inclusion in Parliament-Funkadelic’s 15-member 1997 induction class at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, began in a completely organic fashion. “I don’t know if ‘join’ is the right way to describe it,” Morrison told Red Bull Music Academy in 2015. “I think ‘starting to work with them’ would be more accurate. I would often meet the members of P-Funk on tours we would all be a part of, so the idea of working with them was not that far-fetched.”

Morrison’s first big hit was “The Funky Worm,” which became the Ohio Players’ first No. 1 R&B song in 1973. Parliament’s Motor Booty Affair and Gloryhallastoopid, both with contributions from Morrison, went gold in 1978-79. Clinton’s 1982 solo album, Computer Games, also featured Morrison, and included “Atomic Dog,” the P-Funk leader’s most recognizable solo song. But Funkadelic’s titanic “One Nation Under a Groove” remains Morrison’s principal (and personal) claim to fame in rock circles. He created a template for the song all by himself.

“The track for ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ was, in fact, the first project I co-wrote and arranged for P-Funk,” Morrison said in 2015. “However, as I recall, George was not present at the inception of the track. … Bootsy Collins added his drums at a later date. [Late P-Funk keyboardist] Bernie Worrell was not present at the track’s inception either. Bernie was waiting on his awesome Moog Modular to arrive, which took a bit longer than expected. However, once Bernie and Bootsy added their vibes to the track, ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ became unstoppable. The awesome vocal aspects of the track were also added some time later, as well.”

Morrison was recently the inspiration for the song “Junie” on Solange‘s chart-topping 2016 album, A Seat at the Table. Knowles discussed Morrison’s contribution, calling him “great” a day before her hit album was released last September.

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Next: Top 10 Funkadelic Rock Songs

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