George Bernard "Bernie" Worrell, Jr., a founding member and iconic keyboardist of Parliament-Funkadelic, has died following a battle with lung cancer. He was 72 years old.
Confirmation of the news came today via Worrell's Facebook page. "At 11:54, June 24, 2016, Bernie transitioned Home to The Great Spirit," reads the post. "Rest in peace, my love—you definitely made the world a better place. Till we meet again, vaya con Dios."
To fans who have been following him on Facebook, it's sad but not totally unexpected. Over the last few months, Worrell's wife has been updating his page with developments regarding his illness. On June 15, she wrote that Bernie had "taken a turn for the worse." The next day, she wrote, "Bernie is now headed 'Home.'"
Born in 1944 in New Jersey, Worrell began studying piano at age three and gave his first public performance a year later. He took private lessons at the prestigious Julliard School of Music and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. From there, he moved to Detroit to join George Clinton's doo-wop group, The Parliaments, and their backing band, Funkadelic, which would then be collectively known as Parliament-Funkadelic. An early adopter of the Minimoog, he molded what is now known as the P-Funk sound.
Upon his depature from the band in the early 80s, he played occasionally with rock band Talking Heads. In 1997, Worrell was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Parliament-Funkadelic.
Bootsy Collins wrote a small tribute on Facebook. Read it below.