For all of the attention that Parliament/Funkadelic has justly gotten over their many decades of interplanetary funk, by and large, the most talented musician in the wide-spanning collective goes under recognized by the general public, with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins’ outsized personae getting most of the recognition. But it was the subdued genius of bearded guitarist Eddie Hazel that really made the music stand out.
A native of New Jersey despite being born in Brooklyn, Hazel started out playing guitar in a doo-wop band called The Parliaments with George Clinton before that band morphed into what became Funkadelic with the addition of Bernie Worrell. Funkadelic would release three albums with Hazel, including the masterpiece Maggot Brain, whose title track featured a towering 10-minute solo by Hazel, and stands still today as his masterpiece.
Hazel would leave the band in 1971 after a monetary dispute with Clinton, and go on to release solo albums of his own until he succumbed to liver failure in 1992. His death was given one of the most fitting, gorgeous, and unlikely musical elegies of the last few decades by of all acts Ween, but his work with Funkadelic and his beard still stand up over the decades.