ABOVE: CIRCA 1977: (L-R) Singers Calvin Simon, Fuzzy Haskins and Grady Thomas of the funk band Parliament-Funkadelic pose for a portrait in circa 1977. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, the vocalist and electric onstage presence who played alongside George Clinton from the inception of the Parliaments through to the peak years of Funkadelic, has died, Clinton and the band announced Saturday, March 18th. He was 81 years old.
Born in 1941, Haskins was an original member of the Parliaments when the doowop quintet formed in 1960, vocalizing alongside Clinton and his bandmates Ray Davis, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas, who would remain in the fold during the band’s radical transformation. After years chasing a hit on various labels—and finally finding one in 1967’s “I Wanna Testify”—the group morphed into Funkadelic in 1970, rebranded as a galactic R&B-funk ensemble—a change primarily driven by Clinton and Haskins, according to Clinton’s website.
As well as contributing vocals, Haskins was an explosive stage presence, as well as a writer (on songs including Funkadelic’s “I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody’s Got a Thing” and “I Wanna Know If It’s Good to You”) and multi-instrumentalist who drummed on tracks like “Can You Get to That.” He sang on classic LPs like Funkadelic’s 1970 self-titled debut and the following year’s Maggot Brain, before disembarking the mothership in 1976 to record the solo album A Whole Nother Thang. He returned to Funkadelic for 1977’s Live: P-Funk Earth Tour.
Haskins joined Simon and Thomas in a reimagined version of Funkadelic in 1980, releasing one LP—titled 42.9% in Germany and Connections & Disconnections in the United States—which led to a court battle with Clinton over the Funkadelic name. In the 1990s, they joined Davis in Original P, performing Parliament-Funkadelic classics in addition to original songs. Haskins was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with other members of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997.