Maceo Parker: “2% jazz, 98% funky stuff”

By Kendall Buzzelli

We’re counting down the days until Maceo Parker makes his appearance at Wharton Center. I am super excited that we have Wharton Center in our area to bring in music legends for audiences to enjoy.

Maceo Parker is one of those legends: he put funk music on the map, helping define the genre with James Brown decades ago. Before Maceo Parker, funk was merely an idea – a blend of multiple genres of music, helping to forge a groovy, danceable beat that has endured since.

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Maceo Parker (left) with James Brown.

He’s seen funk from all points of the spectrum, after a long career touring with James Brown, George Clinton, and even Prince. Referring to George Clinton, Parker says, “His thing was, he came from outer space to teach the earthlings how to be funky.” While with James Brown, “we wore tuxedoes and everything had to be color coordinated,” says Parker. The genre of funk has seen many interpretations in its evolution, and Maceo Parker has always been right in the middle of it.

He can be heard slaying the saxophone on  some of James Brown’s most famous recordings including “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and “Cold Sweat.” Prince would refer to Maceo Parker as “Teacher” and would even introduce him on stage as “The Teacher.”

And Maceo Parker’s influence wasn’t just on funk music, but many other styles and artists as well. The rock band Jane’s Addiction is just one instance.  Lead singer Perry Farrell named his cat after Maceo Parker, and the band has a song called “My Cat’s Name is Maceo.” The band asked Parker to play on the 1997 track and he graciously agreed.


Maceo Parker has had an undeniable influence on music and funk as a genre. See him live at Wharton Center on April 20. Tickets are only $19 dollars for students and are available for purchase on our website. Don’t forget to follow Wharton Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for behind-the-scenes looks at all things Wharton Center. 

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Posted in Jazz, Wharton Center News

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