Remembering Eddie Hazel

Some people never get the recognition they deserve, and when they die before their time in reduced circumstances then it’s doubly sad.

The late Eddie Hazel was one such individual.

Guitarist for Funkadelic, Parliament and innumerable George Clinton-inspired side projects, Eddie truly was Jimi Hendrix’s heir.

No-one’s come close since Jimi went to whatever freaked-out dimension he ended up in.

Forget people like Ernie Isley, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robin Trower – who are all fine players – Eddie had a signature sound with wah cocked open onto the sweet spot and distortion pedal on the ‘melt your muthafuckin’ face off’ setting. Not only that, he had a freewheeling style on the uptempo funk stuff and a searing intensity on his more introspective pieces like the sublime ‘Maggot Brain’, which anyone with the slightest interest in the guitar, good music and/or true soul must hear.

Perhaps apocryphally, Clinton told Hazel during the recording session to “play like your momma just died”.

Here’s a YouTube video of him playing the piece with some great guitar work from fellow player Michael Hampton:

In the end, Eddie died of pneumonia after a long battle with booze and drugs – his capacity for all sorts of bad medicine was legendarily high – and left us mourning another good one gone.