Bootsy Collins
Bootsy Collins on the cover of Bootsy's Rubber Band's Live in Louisville 1978
Bootsy Collins on the cover of Bootsy's Rubber Band's Live in Louisville 1978
Background information
Birth name William Collins
Born October 26 1951 (1951-10-26) (age 72)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Genre(s) Funk, Soul, Deep Funk, Funk Metal
Occupation(s) Musician
Instrument(s) bass guitar
Years active 1968-present
The JB's
Bootsy's Rubber Band
Bootsy's New Rubber Band
Notable instrument(s)
Space Bass

Space Bass

William "Bootsy" Collins (born October 26, 1951 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a funk bassist, singer, and songwriter.

Rising to prominence with James Brown in the late 1960s, and with Parliament-Funkadelic in the '70s, Collins' driving bass guitar and humorous vocals established him as one of the leading names in funk.[1]


Early career and James Brown[]

With his older brother Catfish Collins, and Kash Waddy and Philippe Wynne, Collins formed a group called The Pacesetters in 1968. Until 1971, the Pacesetters were the backing band for James Brown, and were known in that context as "The JB's".

Brown fired Collins after he experienced LSD hallucinations on-stage. It is known that the young Bootsy clashed several times with the rigid system Brown used to discipline the young band whenever he felt they stepped out of line. After leaving the band Collins then moved to Detroit, following the advice of singer and future Parliament member Mallia Franklin.

House Guests, P-Funk, Rubber Band and Sweat Band[]

After parting ways with James Brown, Bootsy returned to Cincinnati and formed House Guests with his brother Phelps Collins, Clayton Grunnels, Frank Waddy, and Robert McCullough and released two singles on their own House Guests label.[2]

Franklin introduced both Collins brothers to George Clinton, and 1972 saw both of the Collins brothers, along with Waddy, join Funkadelic. Bootsy played bass on most of Funkadelic and Parliament's early albums, garnering several songwriting credits as well.

In 1976 Bootsy, Catfish, Waddy, Joel Johnson, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, Robert Johnson and The Horny Horns formed Bootsy's Rubber Band, a separate touring unit of Clinton's P-Funk collective. The group recorded four albums together, the first three of which are often considered to be among the quintessential P-Funk recordings. The group's 1978 album Bootsy? Player of the Year reached the top of the R&B album chart and spawned the #1 R&B single "Bootzilla".

Like Clinton, Bootsy took on several alter egos, from "Casper the Funky Ghost" to Bootzilla, "the world's only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll", as part of an evolving character, an alien rock star who grew gradually more bizarre as time went on (see P-Funk mythology). He also adopted his trademark space bass around this time.

Bootsy also released a 1980 album, Sweat Band, on George Clinton's Uncle Jam label with a group billed as Bootsy's Sweat Band.

Later times[]

In 1984, Bootsy collaborated with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads to produce "Five Minutes", a dance record sampled and edited from Ronald Reagan's infamous "Five minutes speech". The record was credited to "Bonzo goes to Washington" (a reference to the Ramones song "Bonzo goes to Bitburg." Reagan had starred as Professor Peter Boyd in the 1951 comedy film Bedtime for Bonzo)

In 1990 Bootsy collaborated with Deee-Lite on their massive hit "Groove Is In The Heart" where he contributed bass and additional vocals. He also appeared in the music video, while Bootsy's Rubber Band became the defacto backing musicians for Deee-Lite during a world tour.

Bootsy collaborated with bluegrass legends Del McCoury, Doc Watson and Mac Wiseman to form the GrooveGrass Boyz. They produced a fusion of bluegrass and funk that listeners either loved as a fresh take on tradition or hated as defiling that same tradition.

Bootsy has collaborated extensively with Bill Laswell and made appearances on two Fatboy Slim records. Bootsy provided "vocal spice" on the TobyMac album Welcome to Diverse City. He also appears on Nicole C. Mullens' latest album, Everyday People. He has also worked with the Lo-Fidelity Allstars on the album Don't be Afraid of Love, with Praxis, and with Buckethead on several occasions, for example on Buckethead's first album, Bucketheadland. Bootsy was featured in the 2002 film Standing in the Shadows of Motown. In 2004 he appeared on Snoop Dogg's Rhythm & Gangsta album.

In 2005, Bootsy Collins added vocals to fellow bassist Victor Wooten's album Soul Circus. He also served as "Heineken's Amsterjam 2005" curator and master of ceremonies on Randall's Island, New York and appeared with Madonna, Iggy Pop, Little Richard, and The Roots' ?uestlove, in an American TV commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone.

Collins' signature instrument is a custom-built star-shaped bass guitar he calls the "Space Bass". Currently built for him by Manny Salvador of GuitarCraft in 1998. More recently, Collins has made an agreement with the Traben Bass Company to make a signature Bootsy Collins model bass called the "Bootzilla".

In October, 2005, Collins co-wrote a song celebrating the resurgence of his hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League called "Fear Da Tiger" which features "raps" written and performed by several Bengals players, including defensive end Duane Clemons, offensive tackle Stacy Andrews, and center Ben Wilkerson. An edited version of the song was made into a music video which features cameos by many other Bengals players. It has garnered tremendous local airplay and is viewable on Bengals.com Additionally, Cincinnati Bell is offering "Fear Da Tiger" as a free ringtone for its wireless customers in both polyphonic and MP3 formats. Collins appeared with Little Richard, Bernie Worrell, and other notable musicians as the band playing with Hank Williams, Jr. for the Monday Night Football opening during for the 2006 season. Collins was the only all star to return with Williams for the 2007 season.

He also sings "Marshal Law", the theme song of the Cincinnati Marshals indoor football team. He debuted the song on April 29, at halftime of a Marshals home game against the West Palm Beach Phantoms.

In 2006, ABC Entertainment / A Charly Films Release released a DVD/CD from Bootsy Collins and the New Rubber Band's concert at the 1998 North Sea Jazz Festival. In the same year, Collins split from long-time friend and guitarist Odhran "The Bodhran" Rameriz, citing creative differences as the reason.

Also in 2006, Collins recorded music for the animated television series Loonatics Unleashed. Collins also voiced the character Bootes Belinda in the episode "The Music Villain". [3]

Currently, Bootsy is producing the funk band Freekbass from Ohio.

In April, 2007, Bootsy announced plans to begin a restaurant/club with Cincinnati area restaurateur Jeff Ruby. The restaurant is to be called "Bootsy's Ruby."

As of July 2007, Bootsy is working on a project by the name of Science Faxtion, an album on which he serves as bassist and co-producer along with his lead vocalist Greg Hampton. The band also features guitarist Buckethead and drummer Brain. [1] The album is expected in September 2007.[2]

Bass technique[]

Collins' bass playing is hard, driving and rhythmic, and has been very influential in the development of funk. His characteristic watery sound, produced by envelope filters, is one of his distinguishing traits as a bass player. He also uses highly syncopated 16th note patterns combined with a very strong slap technique, highly influenced by Larry Graham.

Bootsy's bass patterns are often up-front in the mix and more often than not, drive the song (rather than the guitars or horns).

Bootsy obviously was also influenced by Jimi Hendrix, although they never performed together.

Solo Discography[]


1976 Bootsy's Rubber Band Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band Warner Brothers
1977 Bootsy's Rubber Band Ahh... The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! Warner Brothers
1978 Bootsy's Rubber Band Bootsy? Player of the Year Warner Brothers
1979 Bootsy's Rubber Band This Boot is Made for Fonk-N MVP
1980 Bootsy Collins Ultra Wave Warner Brothers
1980 Sweat Band Sweat Band Uncle Jam
1982 Bootsy Collins The One Giveth, the Count Taketh Away Warner Brothers
1988 Bootsy Collins What's Bootsy Doin'? Columbia
1990 Bootsy's Rubber Band Jungle Bass 4th & Broadway
1991 Bootsy Collins Save What's Mine for Me CBS
1994 Bootsy's New Rubber Band Blasters of the Universe Rykodisc
1994 Zillatron Lord of the Harvest Rykodisc
1995 Bootsy's New Rubber Band Keepin' Dah Funk Alive 4-1995 Rykodisc
1997 Bootsy Collins Fresh Outta 'P' University WEA
1998 Bootsy's Rubber Band Live in Louisville 1978 Disky
2002 Bootsy Collins Play With Bootsy WEA International
2006 Bootsy Collins and the New Rubber Band Live In Concert 1998 ABC Entertainment / A Charly Films Release
2006 Bootsy Collins Christmas Is 4 ever Shout Factory


  • Bootsy is mentioned in the song "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club in the line "Clinton's musicians such as Bootsy Collins raise expectation to a new intention."
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Sooooooooul Train", Geoffrey sneaks into the Soul Train tapings posing as Bootsy Collins.
  • His music has been featured in the movie Baby Boy.
  • In the The Mighty Boosh episode "The Legend of Old Gregg" a creature named 'The Funk' lands on Bootsy's house, giving him his ability to play the bass guitar, as well as the ability to see around corners.
  • On January 26, 2007, Bootsy, a native of Cincinnati, gave the commencement address at the graduation ceremony at The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, who has cited Collins as one of his primary influences, appeared in unmistakably Bootsy-esque clothing in the video for RHCP's 'Dani California'.
  • "Got more bass than Bootsy Collins" is a line in the song "Rumble in the Jungle" by the Fugees.
  • Bootsy has stated that Buckethead is his best friend in a review for Electric Tears, found on Guitar Nine. They often perform together, including recently at a James Brown tribute concert on 22 December 2007.
  • He is the namesake of rapper Lil Boosie (his parents nicknamed him after Collins)
  • Bootsy features on Fatboy Slim's addition to the Late Night Tales series of mix albums includes a spoken-word track of Bootsy reading a poem by Paul Heaton.
  • Bootsy's video for "Party on Plastic" was filmed at a California Photon center in order to make use of the "futuristic" architecture.


  1. http://wc03.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:azfyxql5ldje
  2. What it is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves liner notes.
  3. Epstein, Daniel Robert (2006-10-10). Bootsy Collins interview. SuicideGirls. Retrieved on 2007-03-03.

External links[]