The world woke up a little less funky this morning. Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist, musical director and vocalist, Garry Shider passed away last night after a battle with cancer.
I'll always remember Garry fondly, having been lucky enough to share the most bizarre car ride of my life with him. See, my big brother worked for P-Funk for a decade beginning in the '90s. So late one night, well after a show at the Ogden theater in Denver, my brother asked me, 17 at the time, if I'd give one of his friends a ride to his hotel. My mom, a friend, Garry and I piled into my Honda CRX and off we went. Garry, sitting shotgun, was sweet as could be, thanking me for the ride and asking if us ladies wanted to accompany him to breakfast. It was about 3 a.m. and I really just wanted to go to sleep. Besides, there's not much to eat at that hour, but musicians don't really run on the same time schedule as the rest of us people.
Because Garry was the first person outside of my family to ride in that car, which I'd bought earlier that same day, I always remembered him. In fact, he called me "Sugar," a name I passed along to the car.
Because I was in high school and only kind of cool, I'd only known Garry as the guy who wore the diaper on-stage. I tried to be cool and not let him know that I was scared to death/ in awe of him. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure he was drunk, and, looking back on it, probably used to teenagers trying way too hard in his presence.
Though I never got the chance to meet Garry again, my brother, who quit working for P-Funk a few years ago, has stayed part of the family, flying to New York not long ago, when Garry was rushed to the hospital to say his goodbyes.
In the last few weeks the members of the Mothership have been working on a few benefits to pay for Garry's care (this is a good time for us all to remember that, though P-Funk is iconic, they're not exactly rolling around in stacks of money). Though Garry left the Earth last night, his family is still faced with bills. The Garry Shider Medical Fund has been set up in conjunction with an organization called Sweet Relief, a non-profit charity that offers help to musicians without medical insurance.
Paypal donations to Garry's fund will be split 80/20 with Sweet Relief to help other musicians in their time of need.
Since Garry got sick a benefit album of fan tracks has been in the works as well and will be available, hopefully next week--depending on funeral services--at the Medical Fund site as well as Citradelic.com.
Rest in Peace funky brother!