Bernie Worrell Dead: Parliament-Funkadelic Cofounder Loses Battle to Lung Cancer at 72

Bernie Worrell
Bernie Worrell performing with Leo Nocentelli's Rare Funk Gathering at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 25, 2008. Clayton Call/Redferns

Bernie Worrell, one of the cofounders of the band Parliament-Funkadelic, died of lung cancer on Friday, June 24. He was 72.

The legendary musician revealed he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in January. Despite the diagnosis, he remained in the public eye, taking part in a massive benefit concert last April with the likes of George Clinton, Meryl Streep, Questlove and David Byrne performing.

Earlier this month, however, his wife, Judie, said in a statement to Twitter that his health was quickly deteriorating, noting that “Bernie is now heading ‘Home.’”

In a post to his Facebook page, his wife was announced that the beloved pianist died midday Friday.

“At 11:54, June 24, 2016, Bernie transitioned Home to The Great Spirit,” the post reads. “Rest in peace, my love — you definitely made the world a better place. Till we meet again, vaya con Dios.”

Worrell, who was also known fondly as “The Wizard of Woo,” showed signs of musical genius early on, studying the piano at age 3 and writing his first concerto by the age of 8.

He would later go on to study classical piano at Juilliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, only to use his talents to further the musical style known as funk. (According to Variety, Dr. Dre would go on to sample Worrell’s music heavily in his own hits.)

Along with fellow New Jersey native Clinton, Worrell and several others founded Parliament-Funkadelic, fusing Clinton’s doo-wop group the Parliaments with their backing band, the Funkadelics.

Worrell recorded his first solo album in 1978, All the Woo in the World, produced by Clinton, and he would later also be a key collaborator with the Talking Heads.

In 1997, Worrell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic. He performed with the Talking Heads during the group’s 2002 induction.

He is survived by his wife, Judie.

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