Author Topic: Bootsy's brother succumbs to cancer  (Read 3601 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Bootsy's brother succumbs to cancer
« on: August 06, 2010, 11:03:38 pm »
Bootsy's brother succumbs to cancer
By Lori Kurtzman and Lauren Bishop • and • August 6, 2010

KENNEDY HEIGHTS – Before there was Bootsy, there was Catfish.

The older brother of Cincinnati’s legendary funk icon, Phelps “Catfish” Collins was a jovial guitar player with a huge smile, a mentor who helped shape his brother’s musical career as well as his life.

“He was a father figure to my husband,” said Patti Collins, William “Bootsy” Collins’ wife. “He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Phelps Collins died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Mr. Collins was a lifelong musician and Cincinnati resident. He was born eight years before Bootsy, who gave him the nickname “Catfish” because he thought he looked like one. He was fiercely protective of his family, once threatening to kill his father with a butcher knife if he saw him hurt their mother again, Bootsy told the Enquirer in an interview last year.

In 1968, Phelps and Bootsy Collins helped form local R&B band the Pacemakers, which became the rhythm section at the renowned King Records in Evanston. They played with James Brown, backing him on such songs as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” as part of a group that became known as the J.B.’s.

• Video: Collins brothers, James Brown perform in 1971

In 1971, the brothers formed a flashy funk group called the House Guests with band mates including drummer Frankie “Kash” Waddy and former Pacemakers singer Philippé Wynne. Wynne went on to lead a group called the Spinners, and the rest joined the free-wheeling Parliament-Funkadelic.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Bernie Worrell played with the Collins brothers in Parliament-Funkadelic. Worrell said he and Catfish were the elders of the group.

“He was a loving, caring person, but at the same time, he wouldn’t take any bullcrap when it came to business,” Worrell said. “He was a hell of a musician. He taught me a lot about rhythms. People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

Phelps Collins later joined Bootsy’s Rubber Band and would go on to play rhythm guitar on albums by Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb. He also performed on the soundtrack to the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy “Superbad” with Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and other original members of the J.B.’s.

• Video: Collins brothers work on soundtrack for 2007 comedy 'Superbad'

“He was one of probably the most underrated musicians in R&B and funk history,” said Cincinnati bassist Chris “Freekbass” Sherman, who cites both Collins brothers as influences. “He’s such an amazing guitar player. No one did it like him.”

Patti Collins said her brother-in-law, a father of two who lived in Kennedy Heights, made a life of music and continued to collaborate with Bootsy as the brothers grew older.

About a month ago, local musicians gathered at Celebrities in Roselawn to perform a tribute to Catfish, said Lincoln Ware, who hosts a daily radio show on WDBZ-1230 AM.

Ware said Mr. Collins, always a boisterous and smiling presence, clearly wasn’t feeling his best that night. But he sat back anyway, soaking in the music that had always meant so much to him.

Services are pending.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Bootsy's brother succumbs to cancer
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 09:50:26 am »
from BOOTSY:

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayer's,
Catfish was a different kind of human being, he only wanted love and peace in every situation.
He never wanted people to feel sorry for him, he believed in people working and paying there own way in life.
Catfish was a party man all the way to his passing.
Catfish was nothing but love in the flesh, he never believed in religion, but he would give you the shirt off his back if it would help save your life.
As for his life on this earth, he lived it the way he wanted to and I can say I truly respect him for that, he was a true brother and he loved in a very peculiar way. He fought hard for me to make it and that is a true full blooded brother. He did not consider himself a Christian, Muslim, Buddhaist, or whatever name you placed on God, Catfish was just simply all of himself.
The Catfish was no joke, he severed himself and people with all that he had never taking what did not belong to him.
He could never fake the funk, he always told you what and how he felt about anything, his life was in his hands and nobody else's.
Catfish, was the only one on this planet that knew me inside out, he was my brother, my father and most of all my best friend.
My world will never be the same without him, he was as close to me as my mother and you would think no one could ever be that close.
The Catfish was so amazing with his out look on life, to me he will always be bigger than life, and because life to him was only a means to connect physically with people and he was the best at this as if he Created himself, that is how different he was to me than anybody I have ever known.
He made everybody feel good, but then he would strike you down if you got out of line or tried to slick or trick somebody in his presence, he did not like that.
We saw so much of that growing up, that he hated people playing games and those kinds of tricks on people that affected their life and lively hood.
He hated the trickery, the lies and the over all set up of how the system was set up to keep the real workers struggling and never able to make ends meet.
He knew that we as the biggest and the best Nation on earth that we could very easily make things much better in healthcare and the educational systems for the good of it's people. Why and how does greed become more important than life itself.
He would say why would I want to be a Christian or any other religion when all we do is stab each other in the back while the rich keep getting richer
and the poor continue to get poorer by turning on themselves to get peanuts.
It was a few different characters that would show up with the Catfish and depending on the situation you may get:
Catfist the Joker, Catfish the Clown, or Catfish the Player/Lover.
The ladies really liked all three until they started to get too serious with the Catfish and then that is when he turned into:
                                                                                {The Wrath of the Catfish.}
Catfish would always say, when I go I don't want anybody preaching or saying a prayer over me and crying, just celebrate my life the way I celebrated my life,
having fun and bringing the joy.
I want to have a live band, Comedians, Dancers, Singers, Poets, and people that don't get a chance to be heard or seen on stage, I want to be roasted, toasted
and people drinking and having a good time in my name no other name but " The Catfish".
That is what we are going to do on Sept 4th. 8pm. at the Madison theater 730 Madison Ave Covington Ky 859-491-2444, this was the last place that Catfish played live here in the Cincinnati area for the James Brown tribute and this is where we will party like rock star's for {The Catfish}.
Right now this is all the information I can give you, but go to in a week from 8-7-10 and we will have up more details.
You can also email: Kim Seay at: or call her at: 513-293-3805 for more details.
The Catfish says be happy for him, he did with life what most of us could only dream about, he said the American Dream ain't got nothing on
"The Un-domesticated Catfish Dream", he truly had fun with it.
We will also be introducing (The Catfish Musicians fund) which is a part of Bootsy Collins Foundation which receives donations for musician's that fall on hard times and can not afford a decent burial, Catfish had a love for his fellow musicians so we want to start this for him as well.
More details on this in the days to come, contact Lori Sanfilippo at
Again be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fella I ever met on this planet.
Thank you all for your love and support, but for now I have got to get my party on for the Catfish and the people!
Bootsy baby!!!   

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Bootsy's brother succumbs to cancer
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2010, 05:39:47 am »
from BOOTSY:


We know that you’ve heard by now, about the passing of Bootsy's brother Phelps "Catfish" Collins on August 6, 2010. He was the older brother of Bootsy Collins.  The Bootsy Collins Foundation has developed a musician's fund in his honor to commemorate and share his love for his fellow musicians.  According to Bootsy, “The Catfish was not only my brother, he was my father and best friend.  He was that quiet storm, that would be smiling at you while infatuating you with an irresistible groove."  Catfish played with James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic and his brother’s group Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Bootsy will tell you, “While I was always the front man in the group The Catfish was the star with no name, but he always shined."
We are holding an event in his honor, “The Catfish Nation Celebration” at the Madison Theater September 4, 2010, 8:00 p.m. in Covington, KY.  There will be live entertainment by: The Deele, Reggie Calloway founder of Midnight Star, Freekbass, Wilburt Longmire, The James Brown Tribute Band, Steve Jordan formerly of Rolling Stones, and Brian Hardgroove, Bassist for Public Enemy.  There will also be videos by Dr. Cornel West, Charlie "Gap Band" Wilson, George Clinton, and more.  This historical event is free to the public.

"The Catfish Nation Musician's Fund" is set up through the Bootsy Collins Foundation for musicians that fall on hard times.  These musicians have no health insurance and cannot afford funeral expenses.  What we are asking is for those who can make a donation of $100 or more, special balcony seating will be provided for the event.  There are only 320 seats available so make your donation today.  Additionally, there will be a personal meet and greet with Bootsy from 7:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., and a picture of Catfish autographed by Bootsy.  Appetizers and refreshments will be served.  Contact Esther at the Madison Theater to reserve your seat at 859-491-2444.

Other ways to donate

1.  Visit your nearest PNC Bank:  Make your check payable to: Bootsy Collins Foundation/The Catfish Musician's Fund, Account Number 4213232575. 

2.  Online donations can be made by visiting

We are also looking for items to be donated for our raffle such as gift cards, sports paraphernalia, or gift baskets.  These items will be raffled at the end of the evening, and will benefit The Catfish Nation Musician's Fund.  Please contact Lori Fierro, Executive Director, Bootsy Collins Foundation at for more details.

See you all on September 4, 2010 at the Madison Theater in Covington, KY.  Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Red Carpet Star Walk 7:15 p.m.  The event concludes at 2:00 a.m.

Thanks for all your prayers and support,
Patti Collins/Bootsy Collins Foundation

So Come Join Us & Have Some Funk & A Smile!