Parliament-Funkadelic singer Clarence 'Fuzzy' Haskins dies at 81
Clarence Eugene "Fuzzy" Haskins, an original member of the influential musical collective Parliament-Funkadelic, has died. He was 81.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Haskins along with other core Parliament-Funkadelic members in 1997, confirmed the death to NPR in a statement.
Born in Elkhorn, W.V., in 1941, Haskins started out singing in the 1950s and '60s in New Jersey in the doo-wop vocal quintet The Parliaments.
Named after the American cigarette brand and led by charismatic musician and producer George Clinton, the group didn't achieve great success until they scored a hit in 1967 with "I Wanna Testify."
After their small Detroit record label dissolved, Clinton teamed The Parliaments up with a group called Funkadelic. Eventually known as Parliament-Funkadelic or P-Funk, the musical collective made a big impact on the 1970s R&B and funk scenes.
According to his biography on Clinton's website, "He was known, during live P-Funk shows, to don skin-tight bodysuits and gyrate against the microphone pole as he whipped the crowd into a frenzy, especially when they performed 'Standing on the Verge of Getting It On.' "
"Parliament-Funkadelic pushed boundaries further and further on classic albums like Mothership Connection and Maggot Brain, and set a futuristic pace for Black music," said Rock & Roll Hall of Fame spokesperson Dawn Wayt. "But Clarence 'Fuzzy' Haskins kept things connected to their street corner harmony roots."
Starting in the mid-1970s Haskins developed a solo career, but continued to perform and record with various P-Funk members on and off over the years.
P-Funk member Bootsy Collins paid tribute to Haskins in an email to NPR. Collins said:
"Fuzzy was not only a talented singer & musician, he was a leader & team player. He was always a light at the party, the shows or wherever he would go.
He commanded attention on stage & off.
Not in a boastful way, but just being his natural Werewolf self. He could have played the Wolfman. That was an inside joke that got out there in the atmosphere.
Fuzzy was so much fun to hang out with. But on stage is where he gave his full attention to entertaining the audience.
He was dedicated to his family & friends but anybody that knew Fuzzy knows that he would give u the shirt off his back. He will be missed dearly. R.I.P. my friend."
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An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that Clarence Eugene "Fuzzy" Haskins was born in Elkins, W.V. Haskins was born in Elkhorn, W.V.