A Conversation with Bootsy Collins

Thursday / February 7, 2008 / 7:15 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue
United States

Bootsy Collins is best known as the bassist for Parliament-Funkadelic and leader of Bootsy's Rubberband in the late '70s. Collins got into music long before he became a part of Parliament-Funkadelic. Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, he started playing guitar and bass at an early age. When he was 14, he led a band that did recording sessions at Kings Records with Charles Spurling. The Godfather of Soul James Brown was so impressed with the band that he sent them on tour with his production company performing with artists like Marva Whitney and Hank Ballard, to name a few. In 1969 he asked them to become his regular band and Collins's band was renamed the J.B's.
After touring all around the world with James Brown, Collins and the group were ready to do their own thing. When the band returned from England in 1971, band members decided to leave James Brown and launch their own career. That is when Collins met up with George Clinton and became a part of
Parliament-Funkadelic. In 1975 Collins and his band did some recording on their own under the name Bootsy's Rubberband, based on their single, "Stretching Out." Together, Parliament-Funkadelic and the Rubberband put on some of the most stunning and evolutionary live Funk shows.

Collins now lives in his hometown of Cincinnati and spends much of his time producing movie, game and animation scores, along with producing and mentoring young talent on his label, Bootzilla Productions.

Thomas Sayers Ellis was born and raised in Washington, D.C., where he attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. He cofounded the Dark Room Collective in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1988 and earned an M.F.A. from Brown University in 1995. His work has appeared in many journals and
anthologies, including Poetry, Grand Street, Tin House, Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry, 1997 and 2001. He has received fellowships and grants from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Ohio Arts Council, Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Ellis is a contributing editor to Callaloo and Poets & Writers. In 2005 he was awarded a Mrs. Giles Whiting Writers’ Award. His first, full collection, The Maverick Room, was published by Graywolf Press in 2005 and awarded The 2006 John C. Zacharis First Book Award. He is also the author of The Good Junk (Take Three #1, Graywolf 1996); a chapbook The Genuine Negro Hero (Kent State University Press, 2001), and the chaplet "Song On" (WinteRed Press 2005). An assistant professor of creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and a faculty member of the Lesley University low-residency M.F.A program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his Breakfast and Blackfist: Notes for Black Poets is also forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series.