TIR 92: Rick Gardner Tells How He Blossomed Into a P-Funk Horny Horn


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 92 (Parts 1 and 2): The 1970s was no doubt the golden age of horn sections, with those musicians playing a pivotal role in the period’s sensational funk and soul music. Two of the most important figures were trombonist Fred Wesley and saxophonist Maceo Parker, both of whom honed their craft in support of James Brown. Wesley, who has also been featured on TRUTH IN RHYTHM, developed into a master arranger as well. The J.B. connection led to the two of them joining Bootsy Collins’ phenomenal band in the mid-1970s shortly after they had teamed up with Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton. After initially boosting out their P-Funk horn sound with jazz masters the Brecker Brothers, Wesley recruited trumpeters the late Richard “Kush” Griffith and a white kid out of Kansas named Rick Gardner to round out the section.

The foursome was dubbed the Horny Horns. First heard on Bootsy’s 1976 debut album, Stretchin’ Out in a Rubber Band, they went on to record their own albums as well as back a cavalcade of P-Funk acts and artists outside of Clinton’s empire. Gardner initially seemed like a fish out of water but quickly proved himself thanks to his lifelong love affair with the trumpet and formal academic music background. His wild ride with the greatest funk show on Earth or likely any other planet unfolds in this episode of TRUTH IN RHYTHM.

In addition to Bootsy’s debut, among the incredible albums Gardner played on were Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, Live: P. Funk Earth Tour, Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome and The Motor Booty Affair; Bootsy’s Ah … the Name Is Bootsy, Baby!, Bootsy? Player of the Year and This Boot Is Made for Fonk-N; The Horny Horns’ A Blow for You, a Toot for Me and Say Blow by Blow Backwards; Parlet’s Pleasure Principle; and Bernie Worrell’s All the Woo in the World. Other acts he blew his horn for included Marvin Gaye, the S.O.S. Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, New Birth and Osiris.

Here, in what figures to be his most in-depth interview ever, Gardner covers the gamut of his crucial musical contributions; working with an amazing cast of funky, supremely talented and colorful characters; how his playing complemented the other Horny Horns; his most unforgettable experiences; why he departed from the U.S. Funk Mob; other artists he went on to play with; why P-Funk’s body of work is so important and has stood the test of time; and what he is up to nowadays. It’s appropriate this discussion with Gardner emanates from the Denver area, where the wind blowing off the snow-peaked Rockies matches the air that blew such coolness out of the man’s  horn.