Calvin Simon, Founding Member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Passes Away at 79

Image: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Calvin Simon, who was a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic, has passed away, Billboard reports. He was 79.

No cause of death was given.

His passing was confirmed by his former bandmate Bootsy Collins.

“We lost another Original member of Parliament/Funkadelic,” Collins wrote on Instagram on Friday. “A friend, bandmate & a cool classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former member of Parliament/Funkadelic. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen members of P-Funk! R.I.P…Bootsy baby!!!”

Born in 1942 in West Virginia, Simon honed his vocal skills in the church choir as a child. As a teen, he relocated to New Jersey with his family. After he became a barber in the late 1950s, he joined the group, which was originally known as the Parliaments. It was first a doo-wop quintet consisting of Simon and fellow barbers George Clinton and Grady Thomas as well as frequent customers Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins.

Following a stint in Vietnam, Simon joined back up with the group, which had changed its name to Parliament-Funkadelic. He was a part of the band’s iconic run of albums in the ’70s that included Mothership Connection and Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome and Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Cosmic Slop. He would leave the group due to financial disputes in 1977.

In 1997, Simon, along with other members of Parliament-Funkadelic, was inducted by Prince into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Most recently, Simon recorded gospel music under his label, Simon Sayz, releasing the album Share the News in 2004, when he was diagnosed with and treated for thyroid cancer.

He would release two more gospel albums, 2016’s It’s Not Too Late and 2018’s I Believe.

Along with other members of Parliament-Funkadelic, Simon received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 2019.

On his Facebook page, George Clinton paid tribute to his friend and former bandmate.

“Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon,” Clinton wrote. “Longtime Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist. Fly on Calvin!”

We extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Calvin Simon.

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