The name Maceo Parker needs little introduction.
As the lynchpin of James Brown’s legendary JB’s, he produced some of the most enduring entries in the vast canon of American soul music and sowed the seeds of the funk revolution of the 1970s.
It is almost impossible to separate which came first, Maceo or the funk. He is one of the early pioneers of the modern funk and hip-hop whose sounds we still jump to in the present day.
We caught up with Maceo – who’s currently on tour in Europe ahead of his appearance at this year’s festival – for a quick chat about his life, music and influences.
What defines Funk?
Who or what was your first musical inspiration?
My mother and father.
Musically, what inspires you today?
Listening to old stuff – The Sermon Album, Jimmy Smith with Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, also Ernie Watts and anything by Ray Charles, David Newman and Hank Crawford.
Do you remember the first time you picked up a musical instrument?
I do remember that my first musical instrument was the piano although I didn’t pick it up; I played it!
Of all your achievements, is there one you are most proud of?
The ability to travel and distribute love around the world.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
At the end of a show when we’re all feeling that we have done a good show and we’ve brought and shared some happiness with the people in the audience.
What’s your motto?
Closest I come to a motto is “always remember we love you”.
What did you learn about fame from working with artists like James Brown and Prince?
Be ready for a story when one of the old fans approaches you. Get ready, smile and try to remember the particular story that particular fan is going to tell!
If your life were a song title, what would it be?
The Dixie Hummingbirds – a band my father liked – had a song called: “Thank You for One More Day”.
Maceo Parker plays Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival on Saturday, March 19th. Buy tickets HERE.