|Syd Nathan holding a King record|
Sydney Nathan started out in 1940 when he opened Syd's Record Shop, which mostly sold used juke box records. Most of his clientele were poor people that grew up in the South, but immigrated to Cincinnati to work in factories.
|The King Record Pressing Plant|
It wasn't long before he became aware of the demands of Black teenagers for rhythm and blues music. So King Records became an odd, diverse mix of stars from the Grand Ol' Opry and ground breaking singers like Hank Ballard, Wynonie Harris and James Brown.
Syd Nathan and Hank Ballard
Nathan used the pseudonym of Lois Mann in order to maintain royalties of records. This way if a song became a hit, he would own a piece of the revenue. This was all back in the days of vinyl and most recording studios had to farm out printing and packaging. Not Syd Nathan. He did it all.
Most people are not aware that most of James Browns hits were recorded in Cincinnati at King Records.
|James Brown with Bootsy and Phelps|
Right on the spot, Brown hired Bootsy, Phelps and other members, including Kenny Poole (who went on to become an excellent jazz guitarist). The band played on four of James Brown’s hit tracks and were known as The J.B.'s
|From the Cincinnati Enquirer|
Bootsy moved to Detroit for a while. He came back to make his home in Cincinnati.
During 1972 a friend introduced both of the Collins brothers to George Clinton and they agreed to join up with George as players for the Funkadelic and Parliment Albums.
Over the years, Bootsy went through a series of bands and cranked out some great funk recordings over the next two decades.
During the P-Funk years, Bootsy adopted his trademark Space Bass which he used on many recordings.
The guitar had a maple neck. Pless was hoping that Zoppi would be willing to sell his guitar on consignment. He got more than he bargained for since the store's owner was looking for a guitar tech. Pless was hired on the spot.
He states this Bootsy was an interesting person, dressed in rhinestone embossed leather and having a gold tooth. Bootsy then produced a hand drawn picture of a star shaped bass guitar with a star shaped headstock and a mirrored pickguard. The two men discussed other details such as pickups, wiring, hardware and color. They agreed upon a price of around $900.
The bass was soon finished after that and Larry was sent an airline ticket to fly to Cincinnati with the bass. Bootsy was playing at the Colleseum and wanted to use his new bass guitar. There were problems with the cord that hooked to his bass amp. But Bootsy was so happy with his new bass guitar that he had another one made.
Bootsy preferred the first bass. This instrument was later found in a Cincinnati pawn shop and returned to Bootsy.
Bootsy kept bringing the basses back to Larry Pless for adjustments and to add additional rhinestones. Pless also made a double neck 6/12 string Space Bass for Collins.
Pless says that Bootsy plays all over the neck and his bass is bright enough to cut through the mix.
Sometime later Bootsy has also signed an agreement with the Washburn Guitar Company to produce a line of Bootsy Collins signature Space Basses.
the Bootsy Collins Space Bass. This was a limited edition of 100 basses. These were top quality instruments that had built in LED's. (click on the above link for more information)
At the 2014 NAMM Warrwick unveiled it's updated Bootsy Collins Space Bass.
You can see some of the pickup variations this instrument has gone through, starting with two pickups and now having five J-style pickups. The one on the left has two P-bass and two J-bass pickups.
These days Bootsy spends his time at his home music studio in southern Indiana. For a while he had a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati. Since I first wrote this article it has closed.
From checking out his calendar, these days Bootsy Collins stays very busy touring around the country and playing his unique brand of Funk.