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Robert “P-Nut” Johnson 3/2017

robert p-nut johnson and funkMarch 12, 2017 – Robert “P-Nut” Johnson (Parliament Funkadelic) was born in Baltimore on October 16, 1947.

Prior to joining Bootsy’s Rubber Band and P-Funk, P-Nut played with local bands in the Baltimore area.

P-Nut started on the road with Bootsy’s Rubber Band and in the studio with P-Funk in 1976.

Johnson sang on two albums by Bootsy Collins, Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976) and Ahh…the Name is Bootsy, Baby! (1977) along with Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns’ A Blow For Me, A Toot For You (1977) before transitioning over to both of George Clinton’s bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, when Bootsy stopped touring in 1979.

Sharing vocal duties with Gary “Mudbone” Cooper, Johnson cut a slew of early classics with Collins, paving the way for decades of recordings with various P-Funk projects — including albums attributed to Collins (with and without his Rubber Band), Parliament, Funkadelic, and Clinton. Although his long list of credits doesn’t include many recordings outside Clinton’s creative axis, the group’s incredible prolificacy — and its outsized influence among generations of artists to follow — have made Johnson’s vocals a familiar sound even to listeners who may not realize it and while most of his work came within the George Clinton/P-Funk universe, he did contribute to a number of other projects, including providing backing vocals on the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ 1985 Clinton-produced album Freaky Styley.

According to Clinton P-nut had the funkyest falsetto he’d ever heard. P-Nut was also an accomplished songwriter, taking credit for songs like ‘She’s Comin’ Out Swinging’ on the Yellow Album.

It was typically difficult to parse out credits in the ponderous releases of the George Clinton and Bootsy Collins world, but here is a list of credits on numerous Parliament, George Clinton and P-Funk All Stars albums:

  • Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome – Parliament (11/77)
  • Motor Booty Affair – Parliament (11/78)
  • Gloryhallastupid – Parliament (11/79)
  • Trombipulation – Parliament (12/80)
  • Urban Dancefloor Guerillas – P-Funk All Stars (1983)
  • Live at the Beverly Theater – P-Funk All Stars (recorded 1983, released 1990)
  • Family Series, Vol. 1: Go Fer Yer Funk – George Clinton & P-Funk All Stars (2/93)
  • Hydraulic Funk – P-Funk All Stars (1995)
  • Dope Dogs – George Clinton & P-Funk All Stars (1995)
  • T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. – P-Funk All Stars (6/96)
  • How Late Do U Have 2 B B 4 U R Absent? – George Clinton & P-Funk All Stars (2/05)
  • George Clinton & His Gangsters of Love – George Clinton & His Gangsters of Love (9/08)
  • First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate – Funkadelic (12/14)
Some sources also have him contributing vocals to the Funkadelic album The Electric Spanking of War Babies (1981) and other Collins and Wesley sets.
 
His tenor voice could get into the gutter and soar to powerful falsettos, and always seemed just right for the eclectic production that surrounded him. He most recently participated in the surprisingly popular 2014 Funkadelic release, First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate.
 
Sadly Robert “P-nut” Johnson, who had been ill for some time, spent his last days with us on a ventilator. He passed away on March 12, 2017 at the age of 70.
 
Bootsy Collins wrote on Facebook:

We lost another one to that other frequency. ROBERT “P-NUT” JOHNSON. Born in Baltimore in 1947, P-Nut started on the road with Bootsy’s Rubber Band and in the studio with P-Funk in 1976. When Bootsy stopped touring in 1979, P-Nut segued to P-Funk. Prior to joining Bootsy’s Rubber Band and P-Funk, P-Nut played with local bands in the Baltimore area. Share yr condolences for his family & friends. Another P-Funk legend R.I.P.

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