NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist and founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic known as the “Wizard of Woo,” died on Friday at the age of 72, according to his website.
“At 11:54, June 24, 2016, Bernie transitioned Home to The Great Spirit,” his wife, Judie Worrell, wrote on Facebook. “Rest in peace, my love - you definitely made the world a better place.”
Worrell’s death came less than six months after he revealed he was battling late-stage cancer.
A child prodigy who studied classical piano starting at age 3, Worrell rose to prominence in the 1970s as a member of George Clinton’s funk and soul collective Parliament-Funkadelic, co-writing and performing numerous hits that would have heavy influence on disco and R&B music.
Worrell was one of the first musicians to use the Moog synthesizer. He once said his classical music training helped him to use the synthesizer to great effect, according to a biography posted on his website.
“If I’m playing a horn arrangement on keyboard, or strings, it sounds like strings or horns, ‘cause I know how to phrase it, how a string phrases, different attacks from the aperture for horns, trumpets, sax or trombones,” he said.
After leaving P-Funk, as it was commonly known, Worrell spent several years touring with the Talking Heads. He also released a number of solo albums.
He is credited with co-writing the score for the 1994 movie “Car 54, Where Are You?” based on the classic television show and was a member of Paul Shaffer’s band on “Late Show with David Letterman” for a short time, according to his website.
Worrell and other P-Funk members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Digby Lidstone