Garry "Diaperman" Shider, musician and band leader of George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars who earned his nickname for his habit of wearing diapers onstage, died yesterday following complications arising from brain and lung cancer. He was only 56. Also nicknamed "Starchild," Shider had been an official member of Clnton's funk ensemble since 1972.
A Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, the Plainfield, New Jersey native began performing music in church but it was his introduction in the late 1960's to George Clinton in the NJ barbershop that Clinton owned, and that acted as the funk master's office, that would shape the rest of Shider's musical career, but not immediately.
It was after the teenaged Shider left to go pursue his musical dreams in Canada, where he formed the funk-rock group United Soul (aka U.S.), that he heard from Clinton again. In 1971 Clinton produced tracks for a one-off single on Westbound (recently reissued on CD) by the band that Shider had formed with his NJ childhood friend Cordell "Boogie" Mosson. A year later Shider joined Clinton's musical ensemble.
Once a member, Shider became a key vocalist, guitarist, writer and arranger for Parliament Funkadeliic and P-Funk All Stars for near four full decades. As such he toured the world with Clinton's freeform funk ensemble numerous times. I was fortunate enough to catch many P-Funk shows over the years, which, like Grateful Dead shows, could morph into long extended jams, but the brilliance of these hypnotic funk jams, which were like organized chaos, was how bandleader Shider would always eventually rein them back in musically.
In his comprehensive funk history book, Funk from St Martin's Press, Berkeley author/funk radio DJ Rickey Vincent wrote about the musician: "Shider's presence was integral to Funkadelic's identity, for his strong throat (his father was a preacher), versatile guitar chops, unmistakable diaper garb, and hysterics onstage made his vibe central to the Funkadelic experience. Shider's influence can be heard on he uncharacteristically optimistic ballad "Everybody's Gonna Make It This Time," and he is featured singing the dangerous high range of the vocals for the title song of the band's fifth album, 1973's Cosmic Slop."
As writer and recording artist Shider co-wrote such funk classics as “Atomic Dog” and “One Nation Under a Groove," while his distinctive guitar style can be heard on such popular tracks as the aforementioned "Cosmic Slop" and "Getting to Know You." He also contributed guitar and vocals to several of Bootsy Collins’ solo albums. In 1997 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a prominent member of Parliament-Funkadelic.
After the artist was rushed to the hospital in late March due to his illness, friends and longtime associates of Shider's set up the Garry Shider Medical Fund and also had planned a series of benefits for him. Shider would have celebrated his 57th birthday next month.
Funkadelic "Cosmic Slop" (1973)