Bootsy Collins Shares Tips on How to Reach Your Funk Potential

Michael Weintrob
“We ain’t got no balance no more — and funk is here to help funk that up,” says Collins of his new LP.

For nearly half a century, Bootsy Collins has been a living embodiment of all things funky.

After getting his start as a teenager in James Brown’s band The J.B.’s in 1970, Collins, 65, emerged as the star-spectacled bassist in George Clinton’s intergalactic Parliament-Funkadelic, co-writing dozens of party-starting classics like “Mothership Connection” and “Give Up the Funk.” Now, he’s back with a feature-filled new LP, World Wide Funk (Oct. 27), his first set in six years, with guests including Iggy Pop, Chuck D and Buckethead.

Below, Collins explains how he became the icon he is today.

MANIFEST YOUR FUTURE

As a kid, Collins spent his days drawing stick figures with star-shaped glasses, making that vision a reality when he came of age in the 1960s. “You start taking LSD and seeing all those colors,” he recalls. “We had the hippie days coming through, and I grew up in that. We got a lot of encouragement about style.”

GIVE BACK

Established in 2011, the Bootsy Collins Foundation gives instruments to disadvantaged schools. “The slogan is, ‘Say it loud: An instrument for every child,’ ” says Collins, whose wife, Patti, helps run the operation. “Music class made me want to go to school -- and worth going through math and science.”

STAY LOYAL

One of Collins’ close collaborators was Bernie Worrell, who died in 2016. He dedicated a track to the keyboardist on World Wide Funk that features music from tapes they recorded around 2002. “Whatever I put down, he made it sound like it was right,” says Collins. “That’s magic.”

LEARN FROM LEGENDS

Collins often clashed with notoriously strict bandleader Brown. “I never had a father in the house, and he taught me that discipline. I needed that,” he says about Brown’s dress code and demand for sobriety. “But when I got with George [Clinton], he allowed me to really find myself and do anything I wanted.”

FIND PEACE

With the new album, Collins wanted to spread a message of fun and positivity in a world overwhelmed by tragedy and sadness. “I felt this record should be more upbeat because people are kind of down; a lot of negative stuff going on,” he says. “We ain’t got no balance no more. And funk is here to help funk that up.” 

This article originaly appeared in the Oct. 28 issue of Billboard.