|The Flashlight||Funky Drummer
by Melissa A. Weber
|A mini-interview with Frankie "Kash" Waddy|
MELISSA: We're gonna talk a little about Funkadelic cause you were there in the original formations of the group.
FRANKIE: After we left James. . . What happened with James was (that) we stayed with him as long as we could, and we realized that by being so young and so fired up, y'know, he was a little to conservative for us.
MELISSA: So y'all had to get outta there.
FRANKIE: Well, we took it as long as we could. We stuck it out as long as we could and got the world out of it. We really learned a whole lot from that experience.
MELISSA: So how did you all (Frankie, Bootsy, and Catfish) hook up with George (Clinton)?
FRANKIE: After we left James, we went on our own and we called ourselves the House Guests. And after we did the House Guests thing for a whilew, we did a lot of traveling. We started t do a lot of shows in Detroit, and Malli a Franklin saw us and she went and told George about us. We were hearin' all the time, "Boy, you guys should be with Funkadelic!" "You guys sure remind us of the Funkadelic!" And George came to a show. From that point on, we started negotiatin' to beco me Funkadelic. And shortly after that we went straight into the studio to record "Pussy" (America Eats Its Young, 1972). No rehearsal, really, because George saw what he needed to see and he heard what he needed to hear. Then he'd say, "Yeah, that's wh at I'm lookin' for." And that's his first time using horns and, actually, that was his first attempt at doing arrangements and using dynamics in his music. And we introduced him to "the one." And you know how he is about "the one."
FRANKIE: And he's never gonna let it go. He's go'n hang on to that "one" forever.
FRANKIE: Cause he's smart. He knows what he's doing. And we did the Funkadelic thing and I'm still Funkadelic. We go'n always be Funkadelic. We used the Funkadelic thing as a spring board to do Bootsy's Rubber Band. Betwe en those 2 groups, we broke away from George for a minute to regroup, get our heads pointed in the right direction. And we called ourselves the Complete Strangers.
MELISSA: What was it like the first time you met Bernie Worrell, Billy "Bass" Nelson, Calvin Simon, Eddie Hazel, . . .
FRANKIE: (sighs) It was love. I was at home. I made it home. I clicked my heels twice. (laughs) I was in the house.
Frankie reminices about performing with Funkadelic at the Sugar Shack, "the funk house in Boston," and we wind up discussing band wardrobe.
MELISSA: Who started out wearing the diaper onstage?
FRANKIE: Tal Ross started out with the diaper and then George made an attempt at it, but that was too much clothes for George.
MELISSA: He'd come out (onstage) naked, right?
FRANKIE: Yeah, the diaper was like a chastity (belt) for George so he jumped out of it and put the (bed) sheet on with nothin' up under it. Then Garry Shider jumped in the diaper. And he's the Diaper Man now.
MELISSA: Did you ever do any weird costumes back then (as a Funkadelic)?
FRANKIE: My thing was (laughs) red & yellow dollar signs. We went to Toronto, Canada and did the album America Eats Its Young, and we lived there for about two years. Comin' from Cincinatti, Ohio, it was the first time I'd e ver seen different money. The one-hundred dollar bill in Canada was, like, multicolored. It almost looked like a candy bar wrapper, and I said, "O.K." And I realized back then how people trip so hard on the money stigma. I said, "I'm gonna make spoof of this money thing." We were all getting boots and stuff made. So I said, "You know what? I'm gon' get some dollar sign boots made." And I had these red and yellow dollar sign boots made, and everybody loved em and it caught on and everybody went cr azy. I was just jokin'. It was just a joke (laughs). But that's where the "Kash" thing came from.
MELISSA: What was Bootsy wearin' back then?
FRANKIE: Bootsy was wearin' Dracula teeth and Boo was wearin' skull bones around his neck. Boo was just Boo. He was just out.
MELISSA: And that's what you call Bootsy, Boo? (laughs)
FRANKIE: Boo, Boosy, Doody. (laughs) We got all kinds of names for each other.
MELISSA: And so the Bootsy's Rubber Band project came after that. How did you feel during the first tours as the Rubber Band because you all caught on pretty quick.
FRANKIE: It was magic. It was magic. It was meant to happen. And it was happenin' anyway. George knew it. James knew it. Everybody knew that he had that thing. They knew better than us because they had the experience. All we knew was it felt good. When we put the Rubber Band thing together, the only thing that George had to do was chill us out a little bit because we were so fired up. The first show we did it was inconsiderate, we were playin' so much stuff. (laugh s) And George said, "Hey, man, what ch'all doin'? Y'all playin' too much, man. Don't do em like that!" He showed us how to pace it, y'know, not so much, not so many beats per measure. And after we got a grip on that, we ran with it.
MELISSA: Any interesting stories touring with Bootsy's Rubber Band as part of the Mothership tours?
FRANKIE: It's ironic that you ask me that cause I was talkin' to a guy who lives here (in New Orleans) now. He was my drum tech back then Greg Black . . ..
(Bootsy's Rubber Band) was at a level to where we could fill 20, 30, 40,000 seaters and what we'd do every now and then for publicity, we would go on a small venue tour like the Anti-Tour. Like 4,00 seaters and stuff like that. We went to Fayetteville, North Carolina and what Greg did, he set off explosives. But what he didn't realize at that time was the explosives for the 20,000 seater is not for the 4,000 seater! And he set these explosives off in this 4,000 seater at the certain point of our show. And I noticed that the whole band gravitated backwards.
But what I didn't realize was that it created a vaccum in the place and all the windows in the place busted, but they caved inward. And to make a long story short, about 14 kids were rushed to the hospital with lacerations.
And we felt bad, first of all. We were worried about the kids and we were worried about legalities and things of that nature. But what happened was a newspaper went to the hospital and interviewed each one of 'em. When they interviewed 'em, I think the last thing that they asked 'em in the interview was "If Bootsy's Rubber Band came back tomorrow, would you go to the show?"
(changes voice to young geepie-like persona) "Man, I'd get out this hospital bed and go to the show!!" And it was funny because they said, "Man, Bootsy really blew the roof off! He tore the roof off last night!"