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Calvin Simon, Founding Member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Dead at 79

Calvin Simon, a founding member of the psychedelic funk-collective of rotating musicians headed by George Clinton known as Parliament-Funkadelic, has died.

The news of Simon’s passing at age 79 Thursday, was broken by former bandmates Clinton and Bootsy
Collins, who both posted moving tributes to the vocalist on their social media Friday — and confirmed Saturday by a post on Simon's official Facebook page.

"[Thanks] everyone for the wonderful memories... we will so miss you Calvin... but love the thought that heaven just got a bit funkier," the post reads.

Simon, whose cause of death had not been reported at press time, drew high praise from Clinton and Collins, two of the most visible members of Parliament and musicians whose influence has reached far beyond funk.

"Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon," Clinton wrote on Facebook. "Longtime Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist. Fly on Calvin!"

Collins added on Instagram, "We lost another Original member of Parliament/Funkadelic. A friend, bandmate & a cool classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former member of Parliament/Funkadelic. He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen members of P-Funk!"

A West Virginia native, Simon was born in 1942 and as a youth sang in his church choir for weekly radio broadcasts. The family relocated to New Jersey when he was a teen, where he eventually found work as a barber before joining fellow barbers Clinton and Grady Thomas, and customers Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins in the doo-wop quintet originally known as the Parliaments.

The group scored a record contract and a hit single in 1967’s “(I Wanna) Testify," but that same year Simon was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. After completing two years of service, he returned to the group which had morphed into the collective known as Parliament-Funkadelic, by combining two groups led by the charismatic Clinton.

The group scored massive hits with chart-toppers like “Flash Light” and "Give Up the Funk.” In 1997, Simon and the rest of the group were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for their contributions to music, including 13 top-10 hits on the American R&B music charts between 1967 and 1983. The group received a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 2019.

Simon, who left the group in 1978, released several gospel albums on his own label, Simon Sayz, in the years following his departure. The first release, 2004’s “Share the News,” coincided with his diagnosis and battle with thyroid cancer. His last release was 2018’s “I Believe.”

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