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.