Remembering Legendary P-Funk Member Garry “Starchild” Shider – (July 24, 1953 – June 16, 2010)
There are plenty stars in Parliament-Funkadelic, a funk ‘n roll dynasty that has lasted for over 50 years. Of course there’s George Clinton, chief P-Funk referee, producer, vocalist, songwriter and team captain. You had guitarist Eddie Hazel, whose searing guitar solos would make your mother cry. There’s Bernie Worrell, the keyboard wizard whose sinister lines were like Beethoven-meets-Zappa. And then there were Bootsy Collins, Glenn Goins, Junie Morrison, Mallia Franklin, Jerome Brailey, and about 493 other bright superstars who lit the path of the “Funk Mob” galaxy. But with the sudden, June 16th death of Garry “Starchild” Shider, one of P-Funk’s most integral players, there’s a little less light under the sun.
Garry Shider, a son of Plainfield, New Jersey, joined P-Funk in 1972 and never left, staying loyal to the group consistently longer than any other member besides Clinton. He was so much more than just “the guy who wore the diaper” onstage. He was P-Funk personified. He was a master producer, rhythm guitarist, arranger, musical tour director, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. When Clinton briefly retired in 1979, Garry took the helm, leading the band in a series of legendary live shows. He co-wrote an endless list of P-Funk hits and classics – “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Bop Gun,” “Uncle Jam,” Bootsy’s “Munchies for Your Love,” George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog,” and on and on. His gospel-influenced vocals on songs like “Cosmic Slop,” “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Oh, I,” “Theme from the Black Hole,” “Atomic Dog” and many more reminded you that Garry’s musical background came straight from the church. And when you saw him in concert, he took you right there.
Simply put, if you love P-Funk, then you love Garry.
When the news hit of Garry’s passing, due to complications of brain and lung cancer, funkateers all over the world went into a state of, as one Facebook-er described it, One Nation Under Mourning. But, as the saying goes, “the Mothership will land, just like it always does.” And fans have taken it to the ‘Net, posting happy, healing memories of Garry on sites like myfunk.ning.com and onenationboardroom.com, while sites like pfunkradio.com present full tributes – all so we can get back to being One Nation Under a Groove, just as Garry would have wanted.
Probably most healing of all was the message that magically appeared on Garry’s Facebook page, the evening of his death: “Alright my family, friends, and fans. I’ve come to the end of my funky journey, and it was a hell of a ride!! No tears, just continue to spread the grooveallegiance around the world so that we live on!! Love you guys!! Think of me when u look up at the stars!! -Starchild”
Today, there may be one less star on the P-Funk stage. But take comfort that his star lives forever in his timeless music and memories, in the sky, and in our hearts. Shine on, Starchild.
As Shider did not have health insurance, a fund has been set up to help his family pay for remaining medical bills. Donate today and learn more about upcoming benefit concerts at www.garryshidermedicalfund.com, a partnership with the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
— DJ Soul Sister (New Orleans)
Follow her on Twitter @DJSoulSister