In 19 &9 I was a 14 year old ninth grader, exuberant and enjoying life in Oklahoma City like a normal 14-year-old… well, normal for a 14 year old in 19&9. I was also an avid Parliament Funkadelic fan. Actually I was fanatical about them and they had a term for people like me- Funkateers. One summer my best friend and I bought tickets for a P-Funk arena show, back then they would come through town at least once a year and for years we would never miss a show, and this particular time we’d made plans to see them at an ‘in-store’ the day of the show. We were determined that we would be one of the first in line to get our album cover signed so we had our parents drop us off at Sound Warehouse on N.E. 23rd street about a half hour before they were scheduled to show up and we waited in front for the limousines to pull up. After about an hour had passed without us experiencing the arrival of the limo motorcade at the front of the store that would deliver our hero’s- Where was George, Bootsy, Ray Davis, The Parlets, and Gary Shider? Disappointed and hot we retreated to the inside- once there we discovered that they had parked in the ally behind the store and entered through the rear entrance and were already inside sitting in front of fully formed lines and signing autographs.
I met Gary Shider that day. I remember him being personal and warm I remember him as approachable but not in a way that diminished his rock star image in my eyes. Gary Shider was a Rock Star- in fact he epitomized Rock Stardom! I was heavily influenced by the P-Funk clan. With them it was about the music and the entertainment. A P-funk show (especially back then) would have you mesmerized. Back then Rock Stars weren’t to cool to be truly entertaining and Gary Shider was always one of the central figures of the P-Funk stage show- you see, his signature garb was a diaper. Rock Stars are contrived these days in my opinion. Pretentious would be another adjective that comes to mind- and pretentious while not knowing what a c chord is. You might say, “how much more contrived can you get” to the diaper get up, but Gary wore it natural. You didn’t think he was crazy or weird, especially when he hit the mic at the beginning of “Knee Deep”, you just thought he was bad-ass.
Last month Gary Shider boarded the mothership for the last time, dyeing at the hands of cancer. In recent rears I was blessed to meet him (this time as a peer) while touring throughout various corners of the world. Frequently we’d cross paths at the same festivals throughout Europe and P-Funk guitarist Ronkat Spearman, a personal friend and former band-mate of mine would commonly have me as a backstage guest. It was there, if not in the lobbies of hotels, that I would be blessed to share with one of my hero’s what an inspiration he had been. I was also blessed to see after all those years that an artist could still put it down night after night with the same fervor and passion and respect for the music and the desire to entertain the people. I can only hope that when my career nears it’s end that I would have been relevant to music history and that I would have left some form of inspiration for the next generation of Rock Stars. Gary Shider, you will truly be missed. P-Funk lives!!