Calvin Simon, a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic, died on Thursday. He was 79.
Legendary P-Funk bassist Bootsy Collins announced Simon’s death on Instagram. “We lost another original member of Parliament/Funkadelic,” he wrote. “A friend, bandmate & a cool classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former member of Parliament/Funkadelic.”
Simon joined George Clinton’s doo-wop group the Parliaments in the late Fifties along with singers Fuzzy Haskins and Grady Thomas. He continued to be a member of the group through its sprawling iterations, from soul to prog to funk, through 1977 when he left to pursue solo projects.
As Rolling Stone reported, during his tenure with P-Funk, he contributed to Parliament’s classic Mothership Connection and Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome and Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Cosmic Slop. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside many other members of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997.
“Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother,” Clinton wrote on Facebook. “Fly on, Calvin!”
He left the group alongside original Parliaments members Fuzzy Haskins and Grady Thomas, and they released 1981’s Connections & Disconnections under the Funkadelic name. The musicians also used the name Original P for the 1998 album What Dat Shakin’ and 2001’s Original P Introducing the Westbound Souljaz.
Simon eventually turned his attention to gospel music and put out his solo debut album Share the News in 2004. While he was preparing to tour that album, he had trouble singing and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He underwent throat surgery and went on to release 2016’s It’s Not Too Late and 2018’s I Believe.
Calvin Simon was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside many other members of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997. During his speech, Simon said: “I would like to thank all of our fans and our peers and I would also like to thank God for sparing us to be able to receive this.”
Speaking about the influence of Parliment-Funkadelic, Simon told the Tampa Bay Times that “We opened the way for Prince, and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. In gospel, Kirk Franklin took one of our tunes for a track. We learned the hard lessons with record labels and people now know better. They know they need to own themselves.”