Ray Davis

Parliament and Funkadelic singer

The Seventies funksters Parliament and Funkadelic, with their flamboyant stage shows and albums like Free Your Mind . . . And Your Ass Will Follow (1970) and One Nation Under a Groove (1978), were essentially the same group recording under different names for different labels, and led by the mighty George Clinton.

The bass singer Ray Davis was one of Clinton's trusted lieutenants, and alternated lead vocals with Glen Goins, the guitarist Garry Shider or Clinton himself on tracks like "Theme From the Black Hole" and "Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)". It is Davis singing "We're gonna tear the roof off the muthasucka" at the beginning of "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)", the 1976 hit for Parliament.

Born in Sumter, South Carolina, in 1940, Raymond Davis was gifted with a really deep voice - "so low you can't get under it" he later boasted - and sang doo-wop on a couple of singles with the Del-Larks before joining Clinton's vocal group the Parliaments in the Sixties.

They cut "Heart Trouble" for the Detroit label Golden World; however, the follow-up for Revilot, "(I Wanna) Testify", was recorded by Clinton with a Detroit group, the Holidays, instead of the Parliaments, on backing vocals. Rather unexpectedly, the track made the US Top Twenty in 1967. The reunited Parliaments recorded five more singles for Revilot, although only "A New Day Begins" had any success, entering the R&B charts in 1969.

The group began experimenting with "P-Funk", a style Clinton referred to as "like the Temptations on acid". They eventually became Funkadelic, mostly to avoid contractual problems, and released an eponymous album in 1970. Recorded in one day while they were tripping on acid, their second release, Free Your Mind . . . And Your Ass Will Follow, made the US Top 100 just as Clinton decided also to reactivate the Parliament moniker. The group members embarked on a dizzying decade as the double-headed monster Parliament-Funkadelic, signed to different labels and issuing myriad recordings made with a forever-changing line-up which would include the bassist Bootsy Collins, the trombonist Fred Wesley and the saxophonist Maceo Parker, all former members of James Brown's backing band the JBs.

Both the album Mothership Connection and the single "Give Up the Funk" reached the US Top Twenty in 1976, as "the Afro Nauts" embarked on the ambitious P-Funk to Earth Tour which did indeed feature a spaceship from which Clinton descended on to the stage. However, Davis and his fellow Parliament vocalists Haskins, Thomas and Simon felt they were being edged out creatively and financially and left the following year.

Ray Davis soon returned to the P-Funk mothership, appearing with Parliament on Funkentelechy vs the Placebo Syndrome (1977) and the US smash "Flash Light" and lending his distinctive tones to Funkadelic's worldwide hit "One Nation Under a Groove" in 1978.

Always on a shaky financial footing and an easy target for litigation from the various labels it attempted to work with, the whole P-Funk operation ground to a halt in 1981. Davis contributed to Clinton's album Computer Games and his 1982 solo hit "Atomic Dog", recently adapted by the rapper Snoop Dogg. He subsequently worked with Roger Troutman's group Zapp and briefly replaced Melvin Franklin in the Temptations, recording the album For Lovers Only with them in 1995.

Pierre Perrone

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us