Calvin Simon, the former vocalist and co-founder of seminal cosmic-funk collective Parliament-Funkadelic, has died at the age of `79. Simon’s one-time bandmate Bootsy Collins confirmed his college’s passing on Twitter, writing: “We lost another original member of Parliament/Funkadelic,” describing Simon as “a friend, bandmate and a cool classic guy.” George Clinton also honoured Simon, taking to Facebook to write: “Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon.”
Born on May 22nd, 1942, in Beckley, West Virginia, Calvin Eugene Simon was musical from the get-go, growing up singing in his local church choir. After relocating to New Jersey, Simon met George Clinton and eventually joined a doo-wop group known as The Parliaments in the late 1950s. Simon’s offered up his scintillating vocals on many of the group’s earliest hits, including ‘Heart Trouble, ‘I Wanna Testify’, and ‘I Can Feel The Ice Melting’.
In the mid-1960s, Simon was drafted for the Vietnam war, rejoining The Parliaments in 1968 after two full years of service. On his return to the US, Simon continued to contribute as a vocalist, sticking with the band as they transformed into Parliament-Funkadelic.
Simon was immortalised via his contribution to Parliament’s 1975 album Mothership Connection, which features many of the group’s most iconic hits, including ‘Give Up the Funk,’ ‘Unfunky UFO,’ and ‘P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up).’ He also appeared on Funkadelic albums Maggot Brain and Cosmic Slop.
However, in 1977, he was forced to leave the group following financial troubles. He reunited with his former bandmates in 1997, when he and many others from Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In the latter part of his career, Simon returned to his gospel roots and began releasing music on his own record label. In 2004, for example, he released a solo gospel album called Share The News, which made a sizable impact on the Billboard Gospel charts. His final album, It’s Not Too Late, was released in 2016.