50 years ago this week, Funkadelic released an album the title track of which would become the cornerstone of late night radio listening while I was in my teens. The song was "Maggot Brain" and it was the 10:24 long lead off song. Even by the more progressive radio standards of those days, it was way too long for regular daytime rotation and was relegated to airplay about once a week, usually weekend nights around 2AM. But we all knew when it would be played and when to tune in. If we needed an earlier fix, we'd search out that one kid who could play it on guitar. In my quiet little Parma neighborhood, it was Mike Beeble and he had it down. We'd gather in his basement on Gabriella Drive and listen. It was like a scene from "That 70s Show" minus the comedy.
Legend has it producer George Clinton was tripping while instructing guitarist Eddie Hazel to play as if he'd just learned of his own mother's death. Some reports say Maggot Brain was Hazel's nickname but a more macbre explanation of the title is a reference to Clinton finding his brother's decomposed dead body, skull cracked, in a Chicago apartment. Yikes! The song was done in one take.
So happy birthday, Maggot Brain. And to celebrate, here's a link if you want to relive the memories without having to wait until Saturday night at 2AM.