Eddie Hazel

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Eddie Hazel
Eddie Hazel performing with the P-Funk All Stars at the Palladium in New York City on June 25, 1991. Photo by Aldo Mauro
Eddie Hazel performing with the P-Funk All Stars at the Palladium in New York City on June 25, 1991. Photo by Aldo Mauro
Background information
Birth nameEdward Earl Hazel
Born(1950-04-10)April 10, 1950
Brooklyn, New York City
DiedDecember 23, 1992(1992-12-23) (aged 42)
Plainfield, New Jersey
GenresFunk, soul, psychedelic rock, psychedelic soul
Years active1967–1992
LabelsWarner Bros., JDC, P-Vine, Casablanca, Westbound, Capitol, CBS, Island

Edward Earl Hazel (April 10, 1950 – December 23, 1992) was an American guitarist and singer in early funk music who played lead guitar with Parliament-Funkadelic.[1][2] Hazel was a posthumous inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.[3] His ten-minute guitar solo in the Funkadelic song "Maggot Brain" is hailed as "one of the greatest solos of all time on any instrument".[4] In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Hazel at no. 83 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.[5]


Early life[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, Hazel grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey because his mother, Grace Cook, wanted her son to grow up in an environment without the pressures of drugs and crime that she felt pervaded New York City. Hazel occupied himself from a young age by playing a guitar, given to him as a Christmas present by his older brother. Hazel also sang in church. At age 12, Hazel met Billy "Bass" Nelson, and the pair quickly became close friends and began performing, soon adding drummer Harvey McGee to the mix.[1]


In 1967, the Parliaments, a Plainfield-based doo wop band headed by George Clinton, had a hit record with "(I Wanna) Testify." Clinton recruited a backing band for a tour, hiring Nelson as bassist, who in turn recommended Hazel as guitarist.[6] Hazel was in Newark, New Jersey, working with George Blackwell and could not be reached. After Nelson returned from the tour, he tried to recruit Hazel. His mother at first vetoed the idea, since Hazel was only seventeen, but Clinton and Nelson worked together to change her mind.[1]

In late 1967, the Parliaments went on tour with both Nelson and Hazel. In Philadelphia Hazel met and befriended Tiki Fulwood, who quickly replaced the Parliaments' drummer. Nelson, Hazel and Fulwood became the backbone of Funkadelic, which was originally the backup band for the Parliaments, only to later become an independent touring group when legal difficulties forced Clinton to temporarily abandon the name "Parliaments".[6]

The switch to Funkadelic was complete with the addition of Tawl Ross and Bernie Worrell (rhythm guitar and keyboards, respectively). Funkadelic (1970), Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow (1970) and Maggot Brain (1971) were the first three albums, released within two years. All three albums prominently featured Hazel's guitar work.[2]

The third album's title song, "Maggot Brain", consists of a ten-minute guitar solo by Hazel. Clinton reportedly told Hazel during the recording session to imagine he had been told his mother had just died.[7] Music critic Greg Tate described it as Funkadelic's A Love Supreme.[7] In 2008, Rolling Stone cited this as number 60 on its list of 100 greatest "guitar songs" of all time.[8]

Nelson and Hazel officially quit Funkadelic in late 1971 over financial disputes with Clinton, though Hazel contributed to the group sporadically over the next several years.[9] The albums America Eats Its Young (1972) and Cosmic Slop (1973) featured only marginal input from Hazel. Instead, Hazel began working with the Temptations (along with Nelson), appearing on 1990 (1973) and A Song for You (1975).[1]

For the 1974 Funkadelic album Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, Hazel co-wrote all of the album's songs. On six of those songs the songwriting credit was in the name of Grace Cook, Hazel's mother.[7] Hazel also had a significant presence as arranger and lead guitarist on the same year's Parliament album, Up For The Down Stroke. In 1974, Hazel was indicted for assaulting an airline stewardess and an air marshal,[10] along with a drug possession charge. While Hazel was in jail, Clinton recruited Michael Hampton as the new lead guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic.[7]

In the next several years, Hazel appeared occasionally on Parliament-Funkadelic albums, although his guitar work was rarely featured.[1] One song that featured Hazel's lead guitar is "Comin' Round the Mountain" on Hardcore Jollies (1976). In 1977, Hazel recorded a "solo" album, Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs, with support from other members of Parliament-Funkadelic, including vocals from the Brides of Funkenstein.[7][11] He was completely absent from One Nation Under a Groove (1978), Funkadelic's most commercially successful album. Hazel made another prominent appearance in "Man's Best Friend" on the George Clinton album Computer Games (1982),[7] as well as the track "Pumping It Up" from the P-Funk All Stars album Urban Dancefloor Guerillas.[12]


On December 23, 1992, Hazel died from internal bleeding and liver failure.[1][13] "Maggot Brain" was played at his funeral.[14]


Three collections of unreleased recordings have been released posthumously: The 1994 four-song EP Jams From the Heart (which Rhino Records later added as bonus material to its rerelease of Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs), 1994's Rest in P and 2006's Eddie Hazel At Home.[1]

Other recordings by Hazel have appeared on albums by other musicians. Several albums produced by Bill Laswell, including Funkcronomicon (released under the name Axiom Funk, 1995) have featured Hazel's guitar. Bootsy Collins has also incorporated recordings of Hazel in some of his recent releases, for example, "Good Night Eddie" on Blasters of the Universe.[13]

Ween recorded a tribute to him called "A Tear for Eddie" on their album Chocolate And Cheese.[15] There is an image of Hazel on the back of Primal Scream's album Give Out But Don't Give Up.[16] John Frusciante recorded a tribute to Hazel's "Maggot Brain" on his 2009 album The Empyrean in the nine-minute-long "Before the Beginning".[17]

Nick Cave named him one of his favorite guitarists.[18]

Sound, guitars, equipment[edit]

Hazel played in the vein of Jimi Hendrix and added "the aggressive rock and roll sound of Jimi Hendrix into the funky world of James Brown and Sly Stone". He used much reverb and was a "razor sharp" rhythm player, besides an exceptional soloist[4] with "fuzz-drenched leads".[19] He played a variety of guitars including Gibsons, but is best known as a player of Fender Stratocasters.[4] His typical setup included a Marshall 100-watt amplifier,[20] MXR Phase 90 phaser, Echoplex, Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone, and a Dunlop Cry Baby wah, and in his later days with P-funk a Music Man HD-130 amplifier.[4]

George Clinton recalled that when they were moving from Motown/doo wop toward a more rock and roll oriented sound, they were looking for a heavier, European sound, and he got Hazel a Marshall stack (with an 8x12 cabinet), and a Stratocaster (to replace a big-body Gretsch). Clinton noted, though, that it didn't matter what Hazel played--"it could be a Kay or anything--he could make it sound the same". Asked about effects, Clinton said, "Eddie started right out learning the pedals—the wah wah, the Big Muff, and phasers and shit. We bought all the gadgets in the world".[19]


Solo recordings


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Birchmeier, Jason. "Eddie Hazel". Allmusic. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Houghtaling, Adam B. "One-Track Mind: The Passion of Eddie Hazel and Funkadelic's 'Maggot Brain'". Fender. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  3. ^ "PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d DeArcangelis, Christopher (January 6, 2017). "The Essential Gear of Parliament-Funkadelic". Reverb.com. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  5. ^ "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  6. ^ a b Bowman, Rob (1992). Liner notes to Music for Your Mother.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Tate, Greg (January 12, 1993). "Eddie Hazel, 1950–1992". The Village Voice.
  8. ^ "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  9. ^ Bowman, Rob (1996). Liner notes to Live: Meadowbrook, Rochester, Michigan – 12th September 1971.
  10. ^ Funk: the music, the people, and the rhythm of the one By Rickey Vincent p. 273.
  11. ^ Rhino Records (2004). Liner notes to Games, Dames, and Guitar Thangs.
  12. ^ Miller, Debby (1984-03-15). "Urban Dancefloor Guerillas". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  13. ^ a b "Icons of Rock: Eddie Hazel". Consequence of Sound. 2011-07-09. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  14. ^ Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. p. 141. ISBN 9780879306298.
  15. ^ Margasak, Peter (6 March 2012). "The psych-funk genius of Eddie Hazel". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  16. ^ Jenkins, Mark (1994-06-10). "Priman Scream's Funk a Ridiculous Release". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  17. ^ "Watt from Pedro Show". Invisible Movement–John Frusciante Unofficial Site. January 25, 2009. p. 5. Archived from the original on November 17, 2018. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  18. ^ "From Pink Floyd to King Crimson: Nick Cave names his favourite guitarists of all time". Faroutmagazine.co.uk. 6 July 2020. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  19. ^ a b Gluckin, Tzvi (March 8, 2016). "Parliament Funkadelic: A Funk Guitar Roundtable". Premier Guitar. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  20. ^ Kitts, Jeff; Tolinski, Brad, eds. (2002). Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time!: From the Pages of Guitar World Magazine. Hal Leonard. p. 112. ISBN 9780634046193.

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