By Danny Kennedy
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - When Parliament-Funkadelic began the road trip to Chattanooga from Delaware last night, the mood was bright. But after an early Thursday morning wake-up call, the mood changed to somber and regretful.
Garry Shider, the band's legendary guitarist and founding member, died Thursday morning from brain and lung cancer at the age of 56.
Riverbend reporter Danny Kennedy caught up with the band's keyboardist, Michael "Clip" Payne. Payne has been with the band for 33 years and spoke to us about Garry's legacy.
"He could make you enjoy ghetto. But he could also drive you crazy. Garry could drive you crazy and that's what's gonna be missing around here. There's nobody as insane as this guy. He was a real rock star."
"He was the best guitar player that P-Funk every had. He had a touch and feel for it. He wasn't the kind of guy who polished his guitar and kept it in his hands. The roadies didn't have to take care of his guitar. Basically, any guitar worked for him. He was an original. He was the only guy who has managed to do forty years in a diaper. You can't top that."
"George [Clinton] could do an emo song and a hip-hop song but what made in Funkadelic was he put Garry on it."
"It's like a ton of bricks on everybody. He kids called to see if we were okay. It should be the other way around. They said, you guys had him first."
"Nobody can do Garry, nobody can play guitar like him. Most people don't even know that what they like about Funkadelic records is Garry."
What would Garry want the band to do?
"Make sure it never stops. This is probably the heaviest blow and we've had some heavy blows in this band."
"The only way I can tell you a great story about Garry is to have everyone here to sit and confirm it because you have to check Garry out from all sides of the room to really get the joke."
"Gary didn't have a costume. He had some pink outfit and lost it and was looking for it. So I said just put on anything. So, he took a towel and he said ‘okay, I'm wearing a diaper.' He did his whole career in a diaper."
Riverbend's Coca-Cola stage is known for providing a space for renown musicians to create and play; entertain and enthrall. Tonight's performance will likely be no different.
"We're just gonna burn. We don't know much more than that. Do it the Funkadelic way. We will act like there's ten bands in front of us. That's what it's all about."
Parliament-Funkadelic takes the stage Thursday night at 9:30.