The band began in 1969 as Project Soul, formed by Vallejo, Californiahigh school students, Louis A. McCall Sr. (drums/percussion/vocals) and Michael Cooper (rhythm guitar/lead vocals). By 1971, the group also included bassist Cedric Martin, keyboardist Danny "Sweet Man" Thomas, trumpeter Karl Fuller, and woodwinds player Paul "Maceo" Harrell. Soon thereafter, this fledgling group's classic lineup became complete when singer/multi-instrumentalist Felton Pilate came on board. In 1971, those seven musicians founded a new band, calling themselves "Con-Funk-Shun", after a song by the instrumental ensemble The Nite-Liters. They relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in 1973 when they were hired to back up Stax Records artists The Soul Children. There, they came to the attention of Estelle Axton who signed them to her Fretone Records label. Their first album, "Organized Con Funk Shun" was released in 1973. In 1974, their name was officially changed to Con Funk Shun by McCall's future wife, Linda Lou McCall (née Bolden), when she became the group's publicist and created their logos.
In 1976, Con Funk Shun signed to Mercury Records, releasing 11 albums over a span of 10 years. The group's 1977 LP, Secrets, was certified gold in the US, as were 1978's Loveshine, 1979's Candy, and 1980's Spirit of Love. They scored a string of top tenhits on the USBillboardblack singleschart, including 1977's "Ffun" (#1), 1978's "Shake and Dance with Me" (#5), 1979's "Chase Me" (#4), 1980s "Got to Be Enough" (#8), and "Too Tight" (#8). Tensions from within the group built over the 1980s, and the group's last album, Burning Love, was recorded without songwriter and vocalist Felton Pilate. After leaving Mercury, the original band members ceased performing and recording as Con Funk Shun in 1987. As recently as 2013, their 11 Mercury Records albums, along with "Greatest Hits", and "Best Of Con Funk Shun" albums continue to be remastered and released digitally.
Con Funk Shun continues to receive airplay on US soul radio stations that play music of the 1970s and 1980s. Additionally, their back-beats have been repeatedly sampled by later artists in Hip Hop, R&B, and rap. Most recently, "Honey Wild", (written by Louis McCall; his wife, Linda Lou McCall; and Danny Thomas), from their 1980 Spirit of Love album was sampled by Lil Wayne for his CD Tha Carter III - Deluxe Edition. In 1996, Dru Hill covered the song "Love's Train" on their self-titled début album which was produced by Keith Sweat. Jason Mraz has performed "Ffun" on numerous occasions during his live performances as well. The song "That's What Love Can Do" by Boykrazy, heavily samples "Too Tight".
Born in Alameda, CA, the name of the late Louis A. McCall Sr. was chosen by the City Planning Board in April 2014 to be used to name one of the streets in the proposed residential community, Alameda Landing. On September 21, 2014, the seven band members were honored by the National R&B Music Society with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Louis' wife, Linda Lou McCall, was also given an "Unsung Heroine" award for her continued work on behalf of her husband's band, in addition to her 45 year contribution to R&B music.