Biography

Eddie Hazel (April 10, 1950 – December 23, 1992) was a pioneering and influential guitarist in early funk music in the United States, most famous for his lead guitar work with George Clinton and Funkadelic.

In 1967, The Parliaments (a Plainfield-based doo wop band headed by George Clinton) hit the charts with "I Wanna Testify". Clinton recruited a backing band for a tour, hiring Billy "Bass" Nelson. Eddie was in Newark, New Jersey working with George Blackwell and couldn't be reached. After Nelson returned from the tour, he tried to recruit Eddie. His mother at first vetoed the idea (since Eddie was only seventeen), but Clinton and Nelson worked together to change her mind.

In the fall of 1967, The Parliaments went on tour with both Nelson and Hazel. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hazel met and befriended Tiki Fulwood, who quickly replaced The Parliaments' drummer. Nelson, Hazel and Fulwood became the backbone of Funkadelic, which was originally the backup band for The Parliaments, only to later become an independent touring group when legal difficulties forced the group to (temporarily) abandon the name "Parliaments".

The doo wop of The Parliaments quickly began morphing into the soul-inflected hard rock of Funkadelic, influenced as much by Jimi Hendrix as Frankie Lymon. The switch to Funkadelic was complete with the addition of Tawl Ross and Bernie Worrell (rhythm guitar and keyboards, respectively). Funkadelic (1970), Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow (1970) and Maggot Brain (1971) were the first three albums, released in a mere two years.

Maggot Brain is perhaps the definitive musical statement by Funkadelic, and the titular track's ten-minute guitar solo is Eddie Hazel's defining moment, and the one piece of music for which he has remained a legend. Perhaps apocryphally, George Clinton told Hazel, during the recording session, to "play like your momma just died" and the result was the epic sounds of Hazel's guitar. The term, "Maggot Brain," refers both to Hazel's incredible intake of various drugs, as well as a mode of thinking which allows one to rise above the "bullshit" of the world, which is inhabited by maggots who have not yet achieved the status of Maggot Brain (see P Funk mythology).

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