Rest in peace.
Edwin Birdsong died on Monday night, January 21, in Los Angeles. The funk legend passed at the age of 77. His legacy as a keyboardist extends past his contributions as a session musician for notable artists like Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers. Birdsong released 5 albums of his own, including What It Is released in 1972, Supernatural which came out the following year, and his 1979 self-titled record featuring “Cola Bottle Baby.”
Birdsong's music might be most recognizable to younger generations in the works of Hip Hop artists who have sampled his melodic lines. His genius can be heard on Daft Punk and Kanye West’s “Stronger,” which borrowed from his 1979 “Cola Bottle Baby.” De La Soul and Gang Starr also tapped into his 1980 track “Rapper Dapper Snapper” to create “Me Myself and I,” and “Skills” respectively. The musician's collaboration with Roy Ayers produced many classic tunes such as “Running Away” and "Daylight," later sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for “Description of a Fool” and “Bonita Applebum” respectively.
“Uncle Bird was a dear family friend and is an integral part of the DNA of hip-hop music.” Marlon Williams Jr., son of DJ Marley Marl, told Okayplayer. “A silent but impactful keyboardist and vocalist,” he added, “Birdsong remains as a legend in the jazz/funk/disco world.”