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Garry Shider, guitarist with George Clinton's funk band dubbed "diaperman," dies at 56

By Terence McArdle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 17, 2010; 11:30 PM

Garry Shider, 56, a singer and guitarist whose work with the funk groups Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy's Rubber Band influenced later acts such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died June 16 at his home in Upper Marlboro.

He had done a final tour in April after having brain and lung cancer diagnosed in March.

Mr. Shider often took to the stage wearing only a loincloth -- an act for which his fans dubbed him the "diaperman." He frequently served as band director for Parliament-Funkadelic while sharing guitar duties with Eddie Hazel and also performed with Bootsy's Rubber Band, led by Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins. Critic Geoffrey Himes writing in The Washington Post once praised Mr. Shider's "restlessly inventive techno-funk."

Parliament-Funkadelic, led by singer George Clinton, is perhaps most popular act in the funk genre. P-funk, as it is informally known, combines gospel vocal harmonies, funk rhythms and psychedelic guitars with elaborate props, costumes and theater. The band's most ardent fans, funkateers, follow the band from city to city and often dress in costumes as elaborate as the band's.

Parliament-Funkadelic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Mr. Shider officially joined the band in 1972, contributing to the albums "America Eats Its Young" (1972), "Cosmic Slop" (1973) and "One Nation Under a Groove" (1978).

Clinton marketed the band two distinct acts with the same musicians. Parliament recorded singles for the rhythm-and-blues dance market, and Funkadelic recorded concept albums with songs that took a satirical, almost surreal approach to social issues.

Garry Marshall Shider was born July 24, 1953, in Plainfield, N.J., and began his musical career as a gospel singer and guitarist. He met Clinton in the late 1960s at a Plainfield barbershop where the Parliaments, then primarily a soul vocal group, practiced harmonies.

Hoping to find better prospects, Mr. Shider moved to Toronto at 17 but stayed in touch with Clinton. In Toronto, he formed a funk band, United Soul. Clinton produced a single by the band under the name U.S. Soul in 1971 and then asked Mr. Shider to join Funkadelic the following year.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Linda, and their two sons, Garrett Shider and Marshall Shider, all of Upper Marlboro; a son from a previous relationship; a stepson; his mother; six brothers; and five grandchildren.

An interviewer once asked Mr. Shider why a grown man wore a diaper. Mr. Shider said, "God loves babies and fools. I'm both."

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