The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of the One
Still the standard bearer of Funk History, the "Funk Book" stands as a cornerstone of scholarship and funkativity dedcated to the one and only FUNK BOMB! Published in 1996, "Funk" is still in print, has been translated into Japanese and Italian editions, has appeared in films (!!), has won an ASCAP Award and is still used in classrooms worldwide!
"In this lively and decidedly funky and definitive book, grooveologist and funkateer Rickey Vincent takes us on an amazing musical journey, that begins with James Brown's Poppa's Got A Brand New Bag and continues through the unmistakable grooves and innovations of Sly and the Family Stone, the Bar-Kays, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Kool and the Gang, The P-Funk Empire, Chaka Kahn, Prince, Rick James, Slave, Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, Public Enemy, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many more along the way, all set against the backdrop of sweeping social changes in America."
(from the original press release)
The Critics Review "Funk"
"This book gives it up! A scholarly, entertaining treatise on an exceedingly worthwhile subject."
--C.B.S. Late Night band leader Paul Shaffer
"With FUNK, a whole new school of discourse has been knocked open -- and all ya gotta do is follow the bass line."
--Vibe Magazine, June 1996
"A monster achievement, an exuberant, exhilarating and enlightening book."
"The first book to examine seriously both funk music and its accompanying culture."
--The New York Times
"He chronicles, circumscribes and captures the essence of this potent musical form..."
--San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle.
"Vincent paints an illuminating illustration of Funk music's evolution being a human event gaining importance with time... The impact and effect of this work cannot be overstated."
--George Clinton, from his foreword to FUNK
There are also a gang of reviews of the book at amazon.com. The true response is from readers who decided to Give Up The Funk!
How The Book Came About
Funk was a labor of love. I grew up in Berkeley, California, soaking up The Funk from radio stations KDIA, KSOL and KSFX, local funk giants like Graham Central Station and Con Funk Shun, and from homegrown funky talents like my brother, keyboardist Teo Barry Vincent.
In 1983 as a Cal student I began a stint at KALX radio which lasted ten years and spanned the rise of hip hop sampling and the rebirth of The Funk. The shows began a record of stank that is now on KPFA.
In 1993 I received a Master’s Degree from San Francisco State University, with a thesis on “The History of Funk” which I immediately sent to St. Martin’s Press, among many other potential publishers. A young editor, Marian Lizzi took a chance on this unsolicited manuscript, and after two more years of writing, editing, collecting photos and clearance rights, “Funk” was ready for publication.
In 1994, St. Martin’s Press, known for publishing almost any trendy topic, took a chance on an unproven writer and published “Funk”. To their surprise, the work sold out quickly and has remained in print for over over 18 years, a surprising (and almost miraculous) event for a black music history book published in the U.S.A.
For even more details about the book, go to the page at classic.rickeyvincent.com!
The George Clinton Intro
Many questions have come concerning the George Clinton Introduction. Since my KALX days I had been showing up at George Clinton's Bay Area appearances with writings and essays about The History of Funk. It had reached a point where every time George Clinton saw me, he was ready for something written about Tha Funk!
When The Doctor came to SF on the Lollapalooza tour the summer of 1994, we hooked up again, and I asked him if he would be down for writing an intro and he said "no problem." Like many people in "the business" a commitment from George Clinton and the actual result can be two different things. But with the help of his wife Stephanie and his trusted homeboy Archie Ivy, the text was ready a few months later, and I was able to hook up with George and Archie in May of 1995, and not only get that signature from George, but have a mind expanding session with him as well.
I know people have had their ups and downs with George Clinton over the years, but he has always come through for me, and he has truly been a blessing in my life, years ago as a mysterious "Super Funky Hero" and recently as a mentor and friend.
And it was not about the dollar bills either. (Just in case anyone believes that I cashed in on this book at the expense of my Super Funky Heroes, unproven writers with unsolicited manuscripts DO NOT get advances for their work. What St. Martin’s Press paid me to write this book didn’t even pay for the phone bills used in the interviews, but they DID give me the opportunity to share The Funk with the peoples. I only hope that the rise in interest and affection for The Funk that coincided with the popularity of this book helped create a return in record sales and recognition for so many of the funk artists discussed in the work.)
In 1996 the book hit the stores with just a trickle of fanfare, but things picked up quickly. The initial run of 10,000 copies ran out within a few months, and while St. Martin’s did not take the signal and follow up with a huge new printing or make a gigantic media blitz, to their credit, they kept Funk it in print, and it has been available worldwide for funk fans to get their groove on ever since.
The ASCAP Award
In 1997 “Funk” was honored by ASCAP with their annual “ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Music Journalism. I got a free flight to New York City, a reception at Rockefeller Center, and finally got to meet my editor, Marian Lizzi.
The“Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Music Journalism” is an annual award given to writers about music, from the largest music publishing company, the The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP. Typically two dozen writers from different genres and formats are given a plaque at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan each year.
In December of 1997 ASCAP flew me out and I got to schmooze with some uppity New York writers, and pick up my award. I also got to meet my editor, Marian Lizzi, who took a chance on me and my – unsolicited - work in 1994, for which I will always be grateful.
The Book is a Movie Star!
In 2002 Columbia Tristar pictures released the film “The New Guy” starring DJ Qualls as a loser, Eliza Dushku as the love interest and Eddie Griffin as his prison ‘educator.’ The premise of the movie was about a high school loser (DJ Qualls) who happens to be a funkateer, and through a series of misadventures becomes the coolest (and funkiest) cat at the high school dance.
In the opening sequence, the skinny geek played by DJ Qualls is played by an even skinnier geek at age 10 or so. The boy is playing "air guitar" and jamming to a remix of James Brown's "Superbad" which is in itself ironically funny if you are a sociologist maybe.
But the cool part is that during the Jam, the camera pans to two books on his desk: The Autobiography of James Brown, and “Funk: the Music, the People and the Rhythm of The One.” (!!) I didn't make this up.
One Funk fan who saw the movie in the theaters said he got a kick from the book shot, but then walked out on the movie, it was so bad. But the book sequence happens in the first five minutes of the film, and if nothing else, Eliza Dushku is always worth checking out.
You can check out the reviews of the movie at amazon.com,which are maybe funnier than the film itself (!) and pick it up if you like. But be warned, it ain't for Siskel & Ebert!
The Japanese edition!
In 1998 the Japanese company Blues Interactions Inc, (the producers of P-Vine) decided to purchase the rights to “Funk” and translate the entire book into a Japanese translation.
P-Vine hired the Osaka-based funkateer Chifumi Ui to translate the book, and her dedication and deep understanding of funkativity helped not only produce a fantastic Japanese edition, but her painstaking review of the English version has led to a number of revisions and updates that tightened up “Funk” to a completely new and groovalistic level.
P-Vine hired its own artists Miquella “BuBu” Goblinez, and designer Kikuchi Osamu for the new cover artwork that flipped around the soft cover book…
If you prefer your Funk in Japanese, DO check out the translation of “Funk”!
So now one can say that this book is truly ALL AROUND THE WORLD FOR THE FUNK!
The Italian edition!
In 1999 I was contacted by Ralph Sirianni, a member of the defunkt "Funky Music Mailing List’ who told me that he saw my book on sale in Italy, translated into Italian (!).
While I have not tracked down the official information from St. Martin’s Press, the book was indeed on sale, and Ralph picked up a copy for me during a visit to Italy.
In 2010 I heard from Paolo Zecca over facebook and he sent me the link to the NEW EDITION of the Italian language edition of the book! Check it out!
2010 Edition! Jessica D is diggin' on the Italian edition too!
As with the Japanese edition, all thephotos are all the same, and it’s anyone’s guess as to which edition of the book was used, but hey, it’s all around Italy AGAIN (!) and I hope folks know The Funk there.
Over the years was some interest in publishing the book in French and German editions but they never materialized. Some of my music essays and CD liner notes were written for German publication. You can peep those in The Funk Archives! on the O.G. site! *
For even more details about the Funk book, go to the page at classic.rickeyvincent.com!
*How to get around the RV archives: The original rickeyvincent.com website still exists, but only as "classic.rickeyvincent.com" so if you want to navigate around it, every link will go bad, unless you go to the page address and insert "classic" into the domain. It's stupid I know, but at the moment u can still access it.
So instead of "rickeyvincent.com/fun" you need to change it to "classic.rickeyvincent.com/fun" and it will work.