The following is an excerpt from Scott Goldfine’s book Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk, Chapter 8, Let’s Take It to the Stage. Get your copy of the book today at Amazon.com.
I had noticed George Clinton’s protégé act the Brides of Funkenstein was listed to perform its very first headlining show at the Starwood, a standing-room-only, 300-capacity club in West Hollywood, Calif., that was quite popular at that time. By then I was so deep into music and especially funk that I had cultivated a sort of “Spidey sense” about the artists of which I was a fan. And knowing that the Brides would have to have a band with them I had a hunch that perhaps others of the Funk Mob would be present. I shared my suspicion with a couple of other friends, convincing them to take the gamble and join me (it helped that tickets were only in the $10 range, although not insignificant at the time for high school kids).
After arriving at the venue the evening of Nov. 16, 1978, we found ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder in a packed house with a perceptible buzz in the air. A P-Funk camp representative eventually appeared on stage and told the crowd they were going to be bringing the funk to us in three parts, first opening comedian James Wesley Jackson (who often toured with P-Funk), then the Brides and then Parliament-Funkadelic! The place went berserk, with no one shouting louder or throwing their P-Funk sign into the air with more authority than me. While my funky sixth sense had proven right about what was in store, I later found out Clinton had revealed his hand on local radio that day, ensuring the venue was spilling over and with hundreds of people turned away outside.
The show, which would kick off what came to be known as the Anti-Tour in which with little advance fanfare the Funk Mob would pop up at club-sized venues around the country, afforded Clinton and his cohorts a much-needed reprieve following the utter insanity and massive crowds of the Earth Tour. The Brides (Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry) were a feast for entranced eyes and dancing feet, backed by a band of mostly newcomers to the P-Funk fold. They included DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight (guitar), Jeff “Cherokee” Bunn (bass) and Dennis Chambers (drums). I remember being particularly impressed with Blackbyrd, who despite the relatively short set was given the space to contribute a blistering solo spotlight. All of them would go on to ingratiate themselves as important, longtime members of the P-Funk family.
Finally around midnight, the curtain rose again and, as memory serves, the band led by diaper-clad frontman Garry Shider launched into a throbbing “Cholly (Funk Get Ready to Roll”), with Clinton later strolling on stage amid a deafening and orgasmic collision of electrified sound and roaring hollers. The place rocked for three hours until the wee hours of the morning.
The heat generated on stage was matched by the venue’s steadily rising temperature (the fire marshal would have had a field day). The sweaty throng vibrated in unison until the last groovalistic gasp, following which everyone stumbled out onto Santa Monica Blvd. with wobbly legs, soaked clothing, buzzing ears and dazed smiles plastered on their blissful faces. Libations and substances notwithstanding, all were riding the altered state of having received the ultimate funktastic high. I would subsequently see at least a dozen more P-Funk shows, but none quite like that one.
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