Like many funk pioneers of the ’70s, Shider got his start by playing in church. As a teenager, he sang and performed in support of the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Shirley Caesar, and other prominent gospel artists. Years later, singing far-out funk with Parliament, that gospel spirit was still evident in his vocal performances. He was still bringing them to church — only that church was located somewhere in deep innerspace.
Shider met George Clinton in the late ’60s at the famous Plainfield barbershop where the Parliaments, then primarily a soul vocal group, practiced harmonies. Shider’s vocal and instrumental talent impressed Clinton.
By the time he was sixteen, Shider wished to escape the crime and dead-end prospects of Plainfield, so he and his friend Cordell “Boogie” Mosson left for Canada where Shider and Mosson formed a funk/rock band called United Soul, or “U.S.”. George Clinton was living in Toronto at the time and began hearing about United Soul from people in the local music business and took the band under his wing upon learning that Shider was a member.
Clinton produced several tracks by United Soul with input from members of Funkadelic. The songs “I Miss My Baby” and “Baby I Owe You Something Good” were released as a one-off single by Westbound Records in 1971 under the group name U.S. Music with Funkadelic. All the tracks recorded with Clinton in 1971 were released by Westbound in 2009 as the album U.S. Music With Funkadelic. After producing United Soul, Clinton invited Shider and Mosson to join Parliament-Funkadelic.
After playing on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” Eddie Hazel’s masterpiece, Shider joined P-Funk for good in 1972. He contributed guitar and vocals to most P-Funk releases including Bootsy Collins’ solo albums, contributing to albums such as “America Eats Its Young” in 1972, “Cosmic Slop” in 1973 and “One Nation Under a Groove” 1978,
Over the years, Shider became one of Clinton’s most trusted lieutenants, calling the P-Funk army to attention with his vocal on “One Nation Under A Groove,” and sailing bravely into the ether on “Cosmic Slop.” Onstage he cut an outlandish figure, emphasized by his tie-dyed dreadlocks. But he delivered incendiary solos and impressively funky rhythm work on his guitar. With George Clinton, the founder of Parliament and Funkadelic, he wrote some of the groups’ signature songs, including “One Nation Under a Groove” and “Atomic Dog.” He co-wrote some of the band’s biggest hits and, as a guitarist, he could be incredibly patient, repeating the same phrase over and over — until he combusted into a fiery solo or a stinging riff. Guitar Player magazine featured him three times.
Shider was known to millions of fans as “Starchild” or “Diaperman,” the latter because of the loincloth or diaper he often wore onstage.
After Parliament-Funkadelic dissolved in the early 1980s, Shider continued his association with Mr. Clinton and served at times as musical director of the P-Funk All-Stars, a successor band. He also performed with other P-Funk members in the movies “PCU” and “The Night Before,” playing songs he helped write; appeared on records like the Black Crowes’ “Three Snakes and One Charm”; and had his earlier work sampled on hit CDs by rap performers like Dr. Dre, OutKast and Digital Underground. His work with the funk groups Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
He has been featured in Who’s Who in Music and appeared on a compilation album by Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman band, and also on rock group The Black Crowes’ 1996 album Three Snakes and One Charm. Shider has also appeared on Saturday Night Live several times, the Late Show with David Letterman, The Arsenio Hall Show, New York Undercover, The Tonight Show, and others. He appeared in the films PCU and The Night Before; both of which included songs he wrote and performed. He has also had songs featured in the film Bad Boys, with Sean Penn.
Shider released a solo single in 1988 entitled “Beautiful”. The attempt to reconcile P-Funk’s distinct sound with that of late-80s synthpop yielded no chart success. He released two full albums in 2002, Diaper Man, The Second Coming and Diaperman Goes Starchild.
After having been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in March 2010, he performed during a final tour in April of that year, but sadly passed away of complications from brain and lung cancer on June 16, 2010. He was 56.
Once asked why a grown man wore a diaper: Shider said, “God loves babies and fools. I’m both.”