TIR 53: Pilate Airs How Con Funk Shun Became a High-Flying Success

A recent photo of the current Con Funk Shun lineup, with Felton Pilate second from right and Michael Cooper to his right.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 53 (three segments): Co-founder, multi-instrumentalist, lead singer, songwriter and producer Felton Pilate of Con Funk Shun, who along with Michael Cooper led one of the most successful, distinctive and, frankly, awesome funk-R&B bands of all time. First roaring onto the scene with the No. 1 R&B smash “Ffun” in 1977, by the time the seven-member Northern California group called it quits nearly 10 years later they had released 11 albums, at least half of them gold sales certified, and 16 additional top 40 R&B hit singles. Those hits, however, only scratched the surface of the dozens of killer Con Funk Shun songs.

A sampling includes “Chase Me,” “Too Tight,” “Got to Be Enough,” “Shake and Dance With Me,” “(Let Me) Put Love on Your Mind,” “Make It Last,” “Baby, I’m Hooked” and “Loves Train.” The last few are ballads and underscore the fact that Con Funk Shun was just as masterful at slow grooves as lowdown funk, and even catchy pop for that matter despite never crossing over on the scale of say Earth, Wind & Fire. Their amazing catalog of music has stood the test of time and sounds just as fantastic today as when those records first arrived in stores.

In terms of record sales and awards, Pilate went on to even greater success by lending his production and writing skills to M.C. Hammer’s first three albums, 1988’s triple-platinum Let’s Get It Started, 1990’s 17x platinum Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, which included the Grammy-winning smash “U Can’t Touch This” and is one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, and 1991’s 5x platinum Too Legit to Quit. Pilate released his solo debut, Nothing But Love Spoken Here in 2006, and in 2015 contributed to Con Funk Shun’s first studio album in nearly 30 years, More Than Love. In 1993, he reunited with Michael Cooper and other band members to bring Con Funk Shun back to the stage, and the group has been performing consistently ever since.

Here, in great detail Pilate shares the group’s beginnings, rise to stardom, insights into the albums and songs, the friction that led to its demise, other successes and challenges, and coming full circle to performing as Con Funk Shun today.

Recorded April 2018



Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.