Parliament-Funkadelic’s Garry Shider, a 1997 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, passed away yesterday of complications from cancer, The Star Ledger reports. He was 56. Known to fans as both “Star Child” and “Diaper Man” for his penchant for wearing oversized diapers onstage during Funkadelic’s mind-altering live performances, Shider was one of the few mainstays in Parliament-Funkadelic’s otherwise revolving door lineup. He first appeared on Funkadelic’s 1971 masterpiece Maggot Brain and Parliament’s second album Up for the Down Stroke, earning guitar, vocal and songwriting credits on the majority of the records in the P-Funk catalog up through their most recent album, By Way of the Drum. Up until he was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, Shider was still an active member of the P-Funk touring collective. “Thank you, Garry for all you have done. Forever funkin’ on!” George Clinton wrote on his official website.
Shider first caught the eye of Funkadelic mastermind Clinton at a barbershop Clinton owned in their native Plainfield, New Jersey. His first major task as a member of Funkadelic, in addition to providing rhythm guitar to Eddie Hazel’s legendary lead, was singing lead vocals on Maggot Brain‘s “Can You Get to That.” He later sang on the Funkadelic hits “Cosmic Slop” and “One Nation Under the Groove,” a track co-written by Shider that was named as one of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Shider’s impact was equally felt with Parliament, where he, Clinton and Bootsy Collins teamed to write a pair of tracks on their landmark LP Mothership Connection, “Unfunky UFO” and “Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication.” Shider also co-wrote George Clinton’s solo hit “Loopzilla” and played guitar when Bootsy Collins branched out with his Rubber Band. Film fans will also remember Shider, in his trademark diaper, from his cameo appearance when P-Funk played “The Pit” in PCU.
Shider was first rushed to the hospital in Maryland, where he was residing, on March 25th after experiencing what appeared to be a stroke. He was soon diagnosed with cancer. Struggling to keep up with the sudden influx of medical bills, a fundraising team comprised of family, fans and friends established the Garry Shider Medical Fund to help raise money for the musician’s treatment, staging benefit concerts to reach their goal of $500,000. One such show, scheduled for July 10th in Bloomfield, New Jersey, was to feature Living Colour and P-Funk bandmate Bernie Worrell.
“Over the past four months, Garry fought each day against one of the deadliest diseases, so that he could do what he loved, which was to return to the stage. Which he did,” members of the Garry Shider Medical Fund wrote on their site following Shider’s death, asking fans to donate funds to Sweet Relief, a charity that provides financial help to musicians with health problems.